From: John Wilkins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed 01 Jun 2005 - 02:42:35 GMT
On 01/06/2005, at 11:47 AM, Scott Chase wrote:
> --- John Wilkins <email@example.com> wrote:
>> On 01/06/2005, at 11:09 AM, Scott Chase wrote:
>>> John foaming at the mouth if he's reading this :-)
>> Fortunately I'm not. But while not reading this, let
>> me not make this
>> point: The view you are referring to is basically
>> that of the
>> nominalists (all general terms are flatus vocus -
>> breath of the
>> voice), or conventionalism, a view that arises, so
>> far as I can tell,
>> with Locke.
>> In modern biological taxonomy, this is what I call
>> species denial. A
>> species is just some handy tag we assign to
>> organisms to help
>> communication between scientists. I have some
>> sympathy for it,
>> although I reject it.
> Likewise, essentialism has its allure too, but can be
> taken too far. We have Owen's vertebrate and Goethe's
> leaf, but each must be historicized, via homology and
> the common ancestor. There are phylum level
> conceptualizations in evo-devo that I remember like
> the phylotypic stage of pharyngula (doesn't somebody
> have a website named after this one?). These phylum
> level distinctions would give most nominalists a
> severe case of wheezing and hives. Essentialism and
> nominalism represent a tension of opposites.
Essentialism is overrated. A recent book by Ron Amundson argues that
it was never a precondition for taxonomy in biology, and I agree with
him. In fact, the ideal morphologists were not essentialists at all.
It's well worth a read, and I have a short review up on my blog
Paul Myers has pharyngula.org, which has excellent discussions of
development (and politics, if you are into that sort of thing). Just
don't tell him I sent you...
Oh, and the book:
Amundson, Ron. 2005. The changing rule of the embryo in evolutionary
biology: structure and synthesis, Cambridge studies in philosophy and
biology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
-- John S. Wilkins, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biohumanities Project University of Queensland - Blog: evolvethought.blogspot.com "Darwin's theory has no more to do with philosophy than any other hypothesis in natural science." Tractatus 4.1122 =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
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