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7 - Taxa and Genealogy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2024

Elliott Sober
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Summary

● Pheneticism, evolutionary taxonomy, and cladistics are competing taxonomic philosophies; they disagree about how the classification of a group of organisms and the genealogies of those organisms are related. The cladistic approach is defended. ● It is widely agreed that it is a matter of convention whether a set of species should be placed into a single genus or into more than one. The point generalizes – superspecific taxonomic rank is a matter of convention. ● It is a separate question whether it is conventional matter whether a set of organisms comprises one species rather than several. ● The view is defended that biological taxa are spatio-temporally extended physical objects; they are “individuals,” not natural kinds. ● The question is explored of whether human races are biologically real. ● Cladistic parsimony is explained; it is a method for inferring phylogenies that differs from the method of maximum likelihood. ● The question is raised as to whether parsimony should be evaluated by using the law of likelihood; an alternative is explored – that both methods should be evaluated by seeing whether they are statistically consistent.

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Chapter
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The Philosophy of Evolutionary Theory
Concepts, Inferences, and Probabilities
, pp. 167 - 205
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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  • Taxa and Genealogy
  • Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Book: The Philosophy of Evolutionary Theory
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009376037.008
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  • Taxa and Genealogy
  • Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Book: The Philosophy of Evolutionary Theory
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009376037.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Taxa and Genealogy
  • Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Book: The Philosophy of Evolutionary Theory
  • Online publication: 01 February 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009376037.008
Available formats
×