[Taxacom] double-peaked mountains

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Nov 30 00:50:31 CST 2013

How ironic that you should take that ship of Theseus line with me of all people, since I have an MA in metaphysics! For present purposes though, the issue is irrelevant. All I need for my argument is "individuals" in the sense of sexually produced offspring (asexual organisms may be trickier), so that one can create a "family tree". I may have changed all my constituent atoms, but I haven't undergone 

From: Curtis Clark <lists at curtisclark.org>
To: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Saturday, 30 November 2013 6:55 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] double-peaked mountains

On 2013-11-29 8:33 PM, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> I was glossing over problems with defining the individual, as they 
> aren't relevant to my main point, but, to be pedantic, all we ever 
> actually see are parts of individuals

To be pedantic, you aren't the man you used to be; most of your atoms 
have been replaced since your birth or even adolescence, with atoms that 
at one time were likely part of a different "individual". What's the 
individual? I know you seem real to yourself, and I as a similar "being" 
fully accept that you are, but demonstrating that you exist as an 
individual requires more than hand-waving. Hence the demonstration that 
"individual" has a special role in biology also requires more
hand-waving. Frankly, it's just about as scientific as saying "species 
are the basic units of evolution".

Apropos the article, the value of Wilkins's approach is that it doesn't 
require that "species" be definable. 

Curtis Clark        http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark
Biological Sciences                  +1 909 869 4140
Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona CA 91768

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