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Darwin-L Message Log 1:136 (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.


<1:136>From barryr@ucmp1.Berkeley.EDU  Wed Sep 15 19:44:35 1993

Date: Wed, 15 Sep 93 17:47:24 PDT
From: barryr@ucmp1.Berkeley.EDU (Barry Roth)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Ideas of progress in systematics/evolution

Ideas of "progress" in one form or another _infuse_ systematic zoology (at
least the corner I am familiar with -- terrestrial mollusks).  In cladisti-
cally analyzing your group, work through character-state argumentation ac-
cording to one of the modern protocols (e.g., outgroup comparison).  Then
compare your results to those of the old-timers and ask yourself how did
they come up with their ideas of character-state polarity.  It may not be
quite as blatant as with Henry Hemphill, who wrote around the turn of the
Century, "Westward the course of Empire takes its way -- no less so in the
natural world than in human affairs" (he was mainly talking biogeography,
but systematics was in there too); but culture-driven decisions are really
common, and still exert an effect on the classifications we use every day.

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