Message 2001-06-0017: Re: Vermes

Sun, 22 Apr 2001 00:10:11 -0700 (PDT)

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Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 00:10:11 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Jaime A. Headden" <>
Subject: Re: Vermes

Mike Keesey wrote:

<Just thinking ... wouldn't this recommend that _Synapsida_ and
_Therapsida_ be called _Theropsida_ and _Neotheropsida_,

  They would have to explicitly state this in the definitions.
We can preserve Amphibia, Synapsida, etc.. However, as I've
stated before, paraphyletic taxa are not useful without explicit
philosophy on their existence: they are not evolutionarily
unique groups, in the sense of a stem or node-based taxon. They
are united by their superficiality, not biological actuality,
even if they are biologically actually a group. It's the
philosophy that works for vulger terminology, and that's where I
feel paraphyeletic names should stay. Amphibia and Synapsida can
still be defined as nodes or stems, but I think the latter _has_
been defined; I'm not sure about the former.

<Of course, membership isn't really fixed into a phylogenetic
definition, except for the specifiers, and there are already
rules and recommendations to make sure that the specifiers, at
least, are appropriate. But what if someone defines a group so
that it corresponds well to the traditional usage under
presently understood phylogenies, but then it changes
drastically under a new phylogeny? How would the proposed
recommendation work in that situation? Even worse, what if there
are two main schools of though on the phylogeny, wherein the
clade matched the traditional taxon unde one school of thinking,
while it differed drastically according to the other school?
This is why I have doubts about such a recommendation.>

  And when one makes a distinction between the Mayrian school
and the Linnaean school, and one tries to incorporate the system
in the Cuvierian school (etc.), one runs into roadblocks, and
people will scream and curse the name for all the world to hear.
Find a singular philosophy, one that explains the world by
_most_ criteria, and add specific flexibility clauses to the
inflexible, so that certain definitions, seemingly to be so
inherently wrong, can be reformulated. There is a petition
process clause in the PhyloCode, as Cantino has said here, and
in the PhyloCode itself. A change in the terminology can be
affected by making an argument against an existing definition
more than the commonly-heard pedantic "My definition is better
than your definition". [I'm not quoting here.]

  A basic statement of philosophy proceeds the articles of the
PhyloCode. The BioCode is Linnaean on its face, thus
typological, so we are pretty clear about philosophy. A
prescription concerning paraphyletic taxa might be neccesary, so
that subsequent workers can formulate definitions in reflection
of this, so that they can explicitly include all descendants, or
specifically not include one or two, or more.

  What say you all?

  Jaime A. Headden
  "I've got Irish blood, and I'm not afraid to use it!"

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