Darwin-L Message Log 1:60 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<1:60>From tclarke@uoguelph.ca  Tue Sep  7 16:08:42 1993

Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1993 16:57:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: Tom Clarke <tclarke@uoguelph.ca>
Subject: A reply to Ramsden
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Tue, 7 Sep 1993, Peter Ramsden wrote:

> RE: Tom Clarke's message about taxonomy, 2 points:
> 1.  Congrats, Tom: the list is barely 48 hours old, and you have
> introduced the first jarring note: The list has been 'taken over' ???!!!

 - merely an observation on the high level of historians, archeologists
 etc. that cared to introduce themselves on the system.  For a while, the
 discussion on evolution seemed to be veering away from evolution in a
 natural history sense.

> 2.  It may well be that natural taxonomies or phylogenies exist,
> independently of human perception, but as a scientist, how would you test it?

 Cladistical methods and a lot of research into morphology and behavior...
 As I stated, the interrelationships between groups of organisms exist
 independant of humanity - The overwhelming majority of them predate
 the first sentient ape.  When we try to figure out these relationships
 mistakes can occur - it is at this stage that human perception comes
 into play.

 To infer that a phylogeny requires human perception to exist is to
 infer that humanity has willed into being 4.5 billion years of earth history
 just to satisfy the need for an explanation of the origin of present day
 life.  (or to keep taxonomists employed).  I would argue that that
 concept falls out of the range of science, and more into the field of


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