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Darwin-L Message Log 8:11 (April 1994)

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.


<8:11>From KIMLER@social.chass.ncsu.edu  Wed Apr  6 15:11:26 1994

From: KIMLER@social.chass.ncsu.edu
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 1994 16:10:44 EST5EDT
Subject: Re: Cladistic taxonomies

I was intrigued by the recent comments on the history of taxonomy
and the use of cladistic and phylogenetic taxonomic schemes.  I have
a graduate student, Randy Jackson, working on the history of fish
systematics, in particular comparing the work of Cope, Gill, and
Guenther.  He tells me that the system developed by Gill in 1871 uses
principles or technique that we would today call cladistic.  Of
course, seeing an identity of ideas is fraught with difficulty.  As
a historian, it does not surprise me that we would find, in an
earlier period, various pieces of a later research program.  We
should resist the temptation of having to see everything in the
invention of cladistics as radically new.  However, the hunt for
piecemeal "precursors" of an idea is very out of fashion, for good
reason, in the history of science.  Recognizing that Gill is
working within the problems and assumptions of the 1870s, Randy is
trying to determine how/if each taxonomist's reaction to evolutionism
affects the system he produces.

If any List members who are conversant in fish systematics and/or
the history of systematics would be willing to provide comments on
his work, please let me know.

William Kimler
History - Box 8108
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC  27695-8108
e-mail:  kimler@ncsu.edu

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