[Taxacom] Species Definition?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue May 23 16:02:55 CDT 2017


I've never found the work of philosophers to be relevant (to anything!)

--------------------------------------------
On Wed, 24/5/17, Eric Michael Peterson <epeters1 at uci.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Species Definition?
 To: "Scott Thomson" <scott.thomson321 at gmail.com>
 Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 5:00 AM
 
 I have been a quiet reader on
 this list for a couple years.  As a scholar of
 environmental humanities I find your discussions intriguing
 and inspiring - but I don’t typically have anything to
 contribute because I’m not a taxonomist.  
 
 Regarding this most recent
 conversation, I might suggest some summer reading.
 Kripke’s “Naming and Necessity” and Quine’s “Word
 and Object.”  Both books seem relevant.
 
 Thanks to all of you for the
 always engaging conversations - even if I’m just reading
 them.
 
 Cheers,
 
 Eric
 
 > On May 23, 2017, at 9:36 AM, Scott Thomson
 <scott.thomson321 at gmail.com>
 wrote:
 > 
 >>> So
 can we please just have numbers, or something for IDs of
 published and
 > not yet named, suggested
 taxonomic concepts, so that we can speak of them?
 > 
 > No Hannu. I would
 argue against numbers for taxa and I have had this
 > discussion with some of the major
 proponents of PhyloCode. We humans cannot
 > innately coneptualise numbers in this way.
 When I talk about Homo sapiens,
 > Elseya
 albagula or some fish that Richard described, I can remember
 its
 > name. I can remember the names of
 every species of turtle 454 taxa, I could
 > not remember what would have to be 10
 digit number codes for them, so in
 >
 general communications, general articles and papers about
 species numbers
 > would be useless. Every
 number would have to be qualified or linked so
 > people would know what your talking about.
 We remember names, because we
 > humans
 classify everything using names. Its just what we do. You
 can assign
 > numbers to names in a
 database and let computers deal with that, but our
 > species in our heads cannot do this for
 large numbers of taxa. We will only
 >
 remember the names.
 > 
 >>> (I presume the 100 million year
 old chelid examples are published and
 >
 accessible to any reasonable literature search)
 > Yes John, 2 of the 100M year old fossils
 were published in 2010, the
 > molecular
 papers came out in 2014-2015. The 3rd fossil less likely,
 but
 > they could have had 2 of them.
 > 
 > 
 > 
 > On Tue, May 23, 2017
 at 1:18 PM, Hannu Saarenmaa <hannu at bioshare.com>
 wrote:
 > 
 >> As an
 informatics person, I am amused to see this thread.   And
 facinated
 >> too.  Why is this still
 a question?
 >> 
 >> "Facts are facts, but perception
 is reality".  Does that that old phrase
 >> still rule in taxonomy?
 >> 
 >> "a
 species is what a community of taxonomists says it
 is".    "Community"
 >> is ambigous. So, is
 "species".  Binomial is an attempt to
 >> antropomorphicically classify
 biodiversity.  Not bad, given that the idea
 >> was coined 250 years ago.  But the
 game has moved on.
 >> 
 >> So can we please just have numbers, or
 something for IDs of published and
 >>
 not yet named, suggested taxonomic concepts, so that we can
 speak of them?
 >> 
 >> In real world there are no species.
 Imagine that.
 >> 
 >> Hannu
 >>
 http:/www.digitarium.fi/en
 >> 
 >> 
 >> On
 2017-05-23 8:28, Richard Pyle wrote:
 >> 
 >>> No,
 wait!  Please don't automatically delete this message
 based on the
 >>> subject line!
 >>> 
 >>>
 Still with me?  Cool.
 >>> 
 >>> I was curious if anyone read
 this:
 >>> http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-does-it-me
 >>> an-be-species-ge
 >>>
 netics-changing-answer-180963380/
 >>> 
 >>> And
 if so, whether you agree with the subtitle, "As DNA
 techniques let us
 >>> see animals
 in finer and finer gradients, the old definition is
 falling
 >>> apart"?  We all
 know that people are (ab)using genetic data to draw
 >>> ever-finer lines among groups of
 organisms and labelling them with
 >>> Linnean-style names (binomens, no
 less). But it's not clear to me whether
 >>> this represents an evolving
 consensus on what we mean by "species", or if
 >>> it
 >>> is
 really more reflective of using a shiny new toy to boost
 one's
 >>> CV/tenure
 >>> prospects/etc.?
 >>> 
 >>> For
 the record, as far as I'm concerned, the de-facto
 definition of a
 >>>
 "species" hasn't changed since Darwin's
 time, paraphrased as "a species is
 >>> what a community of taxonomists
 says it is".  But my question is about
 >>> whether the baseline for what the
 community "says it is" has changed/is
 >>> changing)?  Or, in the long run
 will we retain roughly the same
 >>>
 within-taxon-group gestalt that we've generally had for
 a while now?
 >>> 
 >>> And if the consensus really is
 evolving, is that a good thing (more
 >>> recognition of biodiversity)? Or a
 bad thing (increasing incongruence with
 >>> historical knowledge)?  My vote
 is to keep the best of both worlds and
 >>> have
 >>>
 a massive increase in the use of trinomials, but I imagine
 that statement
 >>> will be seen by
 many as a troll.
 >>> 
 >>> Aloha,
 >>> Rich
 >>>
 
 >>> Richard L. Pyle, PhD
 >>> Database Coordinator | Associate
 Zoologist | Dive Safety Officer
 >>>
 Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice
 St., Honolulu,
 >>> HI 96817
 >>> Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax:
 (808)847-8252 email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
 >>> http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/staff/pylerichard.html
 >>> 
 >>> 
 >>> 
 >>>
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 >>> 
 >>> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting
 Ambiguity for 30 Years, 1987-2017.
 >>> 
 >>
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 >> 
 >> 
 >> Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting
 Ambiguity for 30 Years, 1987-2017.
 >>
 
 > 
 > 
 > 
 > -- 
 > Scott Thomson
 > Museu
 de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo
 > Avenida Nazaré, 481, Ipiranga
 > 04263-000, São Paulo, SP, Brasil
 > 
 > Chelonian Research
 Institute
 > 402 South Central Avenue,
 > Oviedo, 32765, Florida, USA
 > 
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 >
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 Phone: +55 11 994 30 4008
 >
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 > 
 > 
 > Nurturing Nuance while Assaulting
 Ambiguity for 30 Years, 1987-2017.
 
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 searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
 
 
 Nurturing
 Nuance while Assaulting Ambiguity for 30 Years,
 1987-2017.
 


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