[Taxacom] Wilkins on species, again

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Thu Nov 28 00:15:26 CST 2013

It is possibly not really all that easily readable! I like to think of it this way: all that actually exists in any robust sense are individual organisms, related to each other by genealogy. So there is one massive family tree linking together every individual that ever lived. The tree has a structure/pattern, whereby many individuals alive today belong to lineages of similar individuals which go back a long way, without any mixing with individuals which aren't similar. Each such lineage is a species. Difficulties arise mainly due to the fact that the pattern in the tree isn't always 100% clear cut. We are trying to describe a pattern in very precise terms, but if the pattern doesn't support such precision in parts, then we have a problem. 

From: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Thursday, 28 November 2013 6:36 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] Wilkins on species, again

[Stop reading NOW if you're bored by discussions on the nature of 'species'.]

John Wilkins has blogged a very easily readable essay arguing that species are recognisable phenomena, and that difficulties in defining them arise from trying to fit them into theoretical frameworks, i.e. from trying to explain their existence.

Here: http://evolvingthoughts.net/2013/10/are-species-theoretical-objects/
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
Home contact:
PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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