Message 2001-06-0109: Re: hands off genera?

Sat, 19 May 2001 17:21:16 -0600 (CST)

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Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 17:21:16 -0600 (CST)
From: "Jonathan R. Wagner" <znc14@TTACS.TTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: hands off genera?

At 12:06 AM 5/19/01 -0600, Ken Kinman wrote:
>      It's late and I am tired, so I will be very blunt and to the point.   I
>think you are making a huge mistake by not excluding generic names from the
>initial phase of PhyloCode testing.
        These are problems other systems have simply been putting off. We
must deal with them eventually. If the PhyloCode can provide a concrete
solution to the arbitrary and obfuscatory nature of the genus rank, perhaps
it may someday be PRAISED for its boldness.
>      Delimiting species boundaries is also arbitrary, especially when you
>take the time dimension into consideration. 
        Not arbitrary necessarily, just difficult to demonstrate to anyone's
satisfaction (see De Quieroz's lineage species concept papers). This
difficulty can be accepted if species are believed to be real phenomena
(which I do, tentatively)... if they are not, they should have no place in
Phylogenetic Nomenclature. Genera have *NO* objective reality. Admitting
them to the system would make the Phylocode no better than any other system.

>Generic boundaries are more arbitrary than species boundaries, but less so than
>the boundaries of higher ranked taxa.
       Er... how? Genera are LESS INCLUSIVE than higher taxa, but I'm not
sure this makes them any less arbitrary. Indeed, what is "less arbitrary,"
anyway? In a philosophical sense, once you admit any arbitrary element to
your scheme, you have made your scheme arbitrary. A man who has killed a
thousand times is no more a murderer than a man who has killed once
(although we may abhore and punnish him more), a man shot fifty times is no
more dead than a heart attack victim, a whore is no less a virgin than...
well, you get the point.

>      Therefore, I believe genera are less arbitrary than higher taxa and
>should be considered separately from those higher taxa,
        As a rank? PhyloCode does not legislate ranks. Period. If a genus
were a class of entity, like a clade, and organism, or a species,
recognizing them would be fine. Are they?

>especially because of the very long history of binomial nomenclature, in which
>generic names are an integral part of species names.
        Can be dealt with in any number of ways, as the Cantino et al. paper

        I think it may be a mistake to proceed in this manner too, as I have
explained elsewhere. However, a decision on how to proceed with species
names would solve the problem. Or, we can wing it, and hope it works out
later. I'm game.



     Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409-1053
  "Why do I sense we've picked up another pathetic lifeform?" - Obi-Wan Kenobi


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