Darwin-L Message Log 12: 1–25 — August 1994
Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.
This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during August 1994. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.
The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”
-------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 12: 1-25 -- AUGUST 1994 -------------------------------------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:1>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Mon Aug 1 00:07:15 1994 Date: Mon, 01 Aug 1994 01:06:57 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: List owner's monthly greeting To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Greetings to all Darwin-L subscribers. On the first of every month I send out a short note on the status of our group, along with a reminder of basic commands. Darwin-L is an international discussion group for professionals in the historical sciences. It is not devoted to any particular discipline, such as evolutionary biology, but rather endeavors to promote interdisciplinary comparisons among all the historical sciences, from historical linguistics and geology to archeology, systematics, cosmology, and textual criticism. The group is now eleven months old, and we have just 600 members from 30 countries. I am grateful to all of our members for their interest and their many contributions, and for helping to make Darwin-L one of the most professional and successfully interdisciplinary discussion groups around. The Darwin-L gopher contains logs of all our past discussions, as well as a collection of files and network links of interest to historical scientists. The Darwin-L gopher is located at rjohara.uncg.edu; on most mainframe systems you can simply type "gopher rjohara.uncg.edu" to get there. Darwin-L is occasionally a "high-volume" discussion group. Subscribers who feel burdened from time to time by their Darwin-L mail may wish to take advantage of the digest option described below. Because different mail systems work differently, not all subscribers can see the e-mail address of the original sender of each message in the message header (some people only see "Darwin-L" as the source). 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O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:2>From schoenem@QAL.Berkeley.EDU Tue Aug 9 01:12:02 1994 Date: Mon, 8 Aug 1994 23:11:09 -0700 (PDT) From: Tom Schoenemann <schoenem@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Subject: Re: Deep roots and measuring diffusion To: email@example.com It is really too bad that Greenberg is not on this list himself, in order that he might respond directly to comments such as those recently given by Thomason. Anyone interested in getting the general tenor of what he might say should read the first chapter of Greenberg's book, "Language in the Americas" (from which all the quotations below are taken). He makes a number of crucial points that appear to be quite convincing, at least to this humble non-linguist. For example: The idea that sound-correspondences are necessary to prove a genetic relationship is simply naive. He gives numerous quotes from early work done on the reconstruction of proto-sound systems indicating that none of them believed the validity of the genetic groups they worked with DEPENDED on such reconstructions. For example, he quotes Delbruch (in what Greenberg states is "frequently looked on as the basic manifesto of the Neo-Grammarians", p 30, LIA) "My starting point is that specific result of comparative linguistics that is not in doubt and cannot be in doubt. It was proved by Bopp and others that the so-called Indo-European languages are related. The proof was produced by juxtaposing words and forms of similar meaning. When one considers that in these language the formation of the inflectional forms of the verb, noun, and pronoun agrees in essentials and likewise that an extraordinary number of inflected and uninflected words agree in their lexical parts, the assumption of chance agreement must appear as absurd." Greenberg also points out that Albanian is universally recognized as an Indo-European language, yet this was accomplished without showing how Albanian forms can be derived using 'regular sound laws' from reconstructed Proto-Indo-European. Greenberg notes that: "In the last five decades or so, we may note, Hittite, Luwian, Lycian, and Palaic, and other Anatolian languages have been universally recognized as Indo-European, as has Tokharian with two dialects, Tokharian A and B. In no case did anyone publish the sorts of articles with tables of correspondences and asterisked forms so common in the pages of the INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AMERICAN LINGUISTICS, which are believed to reflect the methodology of Indo-European comparative linguistics. In the case of Tokharian, one must believe that all three (or four) consonant manners had merged into one, and then each phoneme, now the sole representative of the position of articulation, split into two under phonetic circumstances that no one has been able to state. "Why, then, have all these language been accepted as Indo-European? The reason is the existence of a considerable number of word-stems resembling those that are widespread in Indo-European, and a number of highly characteristic grammatical formatives involving sound and meaning. Thus the existence of even a few froms such as Hitite eszi 'he is' and asanzi 'they are' (cf. Latin et/sunt, Sanskrit asti/santi) is quite sufficient to exclude accident." (p. 19) Later, Greenberg points out the inefficiency of focusing efforts at lower level groupings first, before looking at broader groupings. Greenberg writes: "There has grown up, as a corollary of present doctrine, the notion that one must first reconstruct the proto-language of each lower grouping, thus proving its validity, before proceeding to the reconstruction of the higher level groupings. Such a stepwise procedure appears to be very virtuous, but in fact is an illusion. The reconstruction will itself be a poorer approximation to the truth if it is confined to a restricted group. In the model case of Indo-European, it was the broader group that was first reconstructed. In fact, many phenomena of narrower groups can only be understood historically by outside evidence from within the broader stock. An example is the Germanic consonant alternations that arose as a result of the change expressed in Verner's law. These alternations require a knowledge of the Indo-European pitch accent that did not exist in Germanic in the historic period. After all, in historical matters, the earlier explains the later. If the earlier is not directly attested, one looks backward by looking sideways, which is precisely the comparative method." (p. 36) Greenberg also points out that there are no such things as perfect sound-correspondences. He uses French-English correspondences to demonstrate the tremendous degree of inconsistency that is typical even of languages who's affinity no one doubts: "The existence of the same correspondence in several different etymologies certainly adds to the probabilities of each being correct. Moreover, such correspondences are our chief methodological tool in reconstruction. However, what many linguists fail to appreciate is that anything approaching a complete and highly convincing reconstruction on the basis of recurrent correspondences is in general possible only with languages so closely related that it is unnecessary anyway. Even here we have cases like Athabaskan in which the reconstructions not only differ, but are confined to initial and non-final consonants. Where the separation is greater, as we have seen, the reconstructions are so underdetermined by the data that deviations from a particular theory of reconstruction can be accommodated by a whole series of strategies [of which he outlines at least 10 that have actually been used by linguists]. Some etymologies will always remain uncertain. In others the lesser claim of cognation can be maintained, even thought the reconstructive explanatory theory remains uncertain or in dispute. A far more convincing refutation is to show an incorrect morphological analysis, not deviation from a predicted phonological outcome." (p.33-34) Another comment might be made. Thomason's point about not knowing in the case of two isolated languages whether their similarities are due to borrowing or to common ancestry serves to highlight a general misunderstanding of Greenberg's method and parsimony in general. In a case such as this, where there really are no related languages around, it is true that the similarities COULD be due to borrowing, but borrowing is not as simple an explanation as common ancestry. Borrowing does not involve simply hearing a foreign word once, it involves a significant degree of cultural contact, mixing, exchange, etc. This is not as simple an explanation as common ancestry, and the simplest explanation must always be favored over the more complicated. The reason this is so is quite simple. Given this hypothetical situation that Thomason describes, we are also not able to exclude the possibility that both languages borrowed the same words from a third, now extinct language. It does no good to argue that we should reject this as a favored explanation for the resemblances because it is "less likely," since exactly the same logic holds for borrowing between different cultural groups. We must pare-off unnecessary complications until other evidence suggests otherwise. Greenberg's method involves multiple comparisons, which means that cases of borrowing become much more apparent. In fact, borrowing can only be detected in the context of the broader grouping that the two languages come from. Greenberg points to the situation with Turkish and Arabic, which share numerous apparent cognates. He writes, "One obvious consideration, of course, is that these loanwords are not basic vocabulary items. But we do not even need such a hypothesis. The most powerful proof is, once more, distribution across languages. Turkish and Arabic are not mutually intelligible and are obviously distinct languages. Hence, if Turkish were really a Semitic language, it would show some independence within that family. But Turkish never has a Semitic morpheme unless it occurs in close to the same form in Arabic. In the absence of direct historical evidence, which is of course present in this case, this is the most powerful evidence for borrowing." (pp. 22-23) In other words, it it the patterns across groups of languages that allow us to ferret out borrowing. In summary, it appears that: 1) regular sound correspondences have never been used to prove genetic relationships, 2) regular sound correspondences always have many exceptions, 3) sound laws are best reconstructed AFTER the genetic grouping is determined, and 4) instances of borrowing are best detected by examining the context given by the broader genetic grouping. I would be interested to know how linguists who disagree with Greenberg would address these points. P. Tom Schoenemann Department of Anthropology University of California, Berkeley (firstname.lastname@example.org) _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:3>From email@example.com Tue Aug 9 06:29:10 1994 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Deep roots and measuring diffusion Date: Tue, 09 Aug 94 07:29:05 -0400 From: Sally Thomason <email@example.com> Tom Schoenemann is quite right in saying that, to nonlinguists, Greenberg's methodological arguments and data look very convincing: that has to be the reason for the surprising (to most historical linguists who have examined his data) acceptance of his results by nonlinguists. I've taken up too much space on darwin-l lately, so won't give a detailed response to Schoenemann's points, but (fairly) briefly, here's how the response would go: (1) The crucial issue is not absolutely regular sound correspondences. The crucial point is some evidence of SYSTEMATIC correspondences -- recurring sound correspondences -- in forms (including inflectional affixes, as in the Delbruck quote) of similar meaning. That's exactly what Delbruck is talking about, in the passage quoted. This also makes Schoenemann's point (2) moot: no one, but no one, is insisting on absolute regularity. (3) Of course no reconstruction can be done until after one suspects one has a genetic grouping. But (we believe) there are sure to be related languages on which no reconstruction can be done, because you can't reconstruct anything if you don't have systematic correspondences. That's why we insist on the *possibility* of reconstruction; you have to be able to show that the correspondences are there, and showing that some reconstruction is possible is the surest way to do that. (4) Of course you need patterns across languages to detect borrowing, *at levels of connection where patterns are still detectable at all*. That's just it: in Greenberg's data, there are no patterns -- either of the sort that would permit reconstruction or of the sort that would permit us to separate a few remaining remote borrowings from a few remaining inherited words. Parsimony doesn't really enter in here, unless of course one starts with the methodological assumption that inheritance is always more likely than borrowing as an explanation for shared words. (It's not just inheritance vs. borrowing, though: for most historical linguists who have examined Greenberg's data, the main concern is historical connection -- whether inheritance or borrowing -- vs. chance. Chance is what, in most specialists' opinion, Greenberg has not excluded.) The real issue is time depth. The Indo-European examples aren't really relevant, because there we're talking about a much shallower time depth than with Greenberg's "Amerind"; and, even more significantly, what made it possible to see immediately that those newly discovered "small" languages were Indo-European was that there was already a very solid matrix of information about Indo-European structure and lexicon to fit them into. With "Amerind", there is no such matrix. For the rest, see the papers that I and other linguists have mentioned on darwin-l. Sally Thomason firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:4>From email@example.com Tue Aug 9 07:15:23 1994 Date: Tue, 9 Aug 94 05:15:05 PDT From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter H. Salus) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Deep roots and measuring diffusion Sally, Well, as a historian, I want to point out the internal contradiction of (a) citing Delbrueck and the stating (b): >>also makes Schoenemann's point (2) moot: no one, but no one, >>is insisting on absolute regularity. (3) Of course no as it is precisely Brugmann, Delbrueck, etc., through Hermann Paul and Streitberg who insist on the "Ausnahmslosigkeit der Lautgestetze." Peter _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:5>From GOLLAV@axe.humboldt.edu Tue Aug 9 13:57:57 1994 Date: Tue, 09 Aug 1994 11:59:23 -0700 (PDT) From: GOLLAV@axe.humboldt.edu Subject: Re: Deep roots and measuring diffusion To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sound "laws" -- regular phonemic correspondences in cognate forms in a group of genetically related languages -- are part of the fabric of historical explanation. They are not a precondition for proposing a genetic grouping, but neither are they (as Greenberg sometimes says) mere pedantic frills that one can postpone working out until one has time for the exercise. Historical research is rarely if ever deductive; it proceeds by building up a thick fabric of interlinking probabilities. In historical linguistics, I think it is fair to say that no language family can be considered ESTABLISHED -- that is, accepted as a valid, productive historical hypothesis -- until etymologies are thick on the ground. Etymologies are historical hypotheses about individual words and grammatical features. It is one thing to say that there are striking resemblances among English, French and German, and that these support a genetic explanation. It is quite another to show that the resemblances among _fire_, _Feuer_, and _feu_ result from genuine cognacy between the English and German forms, but from chance in the case of French (which is from Latin _focus_). In general, you can't propose meaningful etymologies without hypothesizing sound correspondences and reconstructing proto-languages at various time depths. (The explanation of the "fire" words requires the reconstruction of Proto-Germanic to account for English and German, and Proto-Romance (if Latin weren't already attested) and Proto-Indo-European to account for the French form.) The historical understanding of the genetic relationship between English and German, and of the other historical relationships, both genetic and otherwise, between French and either of the other two, are codified in etymological dictionaries and comparative grammars. It is NOT in any significant way based on either abstract "sound laws" or on gross counts of the numbers of words that look alike. On the other hand, genetic groupings can be PROPOSED before such detailed historical work has been done. In the Americas this has generally been the case, from Albert Gallatin's time onward. The relatively few scholars who have concerned themselves with American Indian linguistic diversity on the grand scale have mostly been content to make sweeping classificatory statements, more in the nature of forecasts or prognostications than as serious historical proposals. (Edward Sapir's 1929 scheme of 6 "superstocks" for North and Central America is one of the best known.) But such proposals have no HISTORICAL standing until subjected to real historical (i.e., etymological, reconstructive, sound-correspondence-postulating) investigation. As A. L. Kroeber once wrote (with Sapir evidently in mind) a classification of this sort "is in no sense whatever a definable or controllable method of science or scholarship." It is simply a prognostication, a suggestion that future research should turn in certain directions. Greenberg's hemisphere-wide web of interlocking genetic proposals in LANGUAGE IN THE AMERICAS is in the same league as similar speculations of Sapir's (or Brinton's, Radin's, Loukotka's, and Swadesh's). From Amerind on down, Greenberg's proposals are interesting and may well goad research, although not significantly more than previous speculations. In fact, many of the specific groupings Greenberg has proposed overlap considerably with groupings perviously proposed, including the separation of Na-Dene from the rest of American languages -- an old idea of Sapir's. What is different about Greenberg's scheme is the wrongheaded vehemence with which he and a few partisans have argued that his "method" (a very crude survey of super- ficially resemblant vocabulary) miraculously yields true historical results, with no further research required. This astonishingly unscientific claim has essentially isolated Greenberg from most of his peers and subjected his work to scathing reviews. As far as most responsible historical linguists are concerned, the matter is settled. Through a stream of popular and self-serving articles and books, Greenberg has chosen to appeal his case to non-linguists. Claiming as he does to have to have spun the gold of history out of the flax of simple vocabulary comparison, his work is bound to attract attention, especially from those people who think the minutiae of real linguistic scholarship are hopelessly remote and useless. --Victor Golla Humboldt State University email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:6>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Aug 9 17:33:00 1994 Date: Tue, 9 Aug 1994 15:32:51 -0700 (PDT) From: Scott C DeLancey <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Deep roots and measuring diffusion To: firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Schoenemann quotes from Greenberg's defense of his methods: > For example, he quotes Delbruch (in what > Greenberg states is "frequently looked on as the basic manifesto of the > Neo-Grammarians", p 30, LIA) > > "My starting point is that specific result of comparative linguistics that > is not in doubt and cannot be in doubt. It was proved by Bopp and others > that the so-called Indo-European languages are related. The proof was > produced by juxtaposing words and forms of similar meaning. When one > considers that in these language the formation of the inflectional forms ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > of the verb, noun, and pronoun agrees in essentials and likewise that an ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > extraordinary number of inflected and uninflected words agree in their ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > lexical parts, the assumption of chance agreement must appear as absurd." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ No one would disagree with this. In fact, exactly this point in made by Ives Goddard, who is perhaps Greenberg's severest critic, in an article on proving relationship where he looks at Algonquian-Wiyot- Yurok evidence. But keep in mind the sort of evidence that Delbruck is talking about here. Not just lists of words with similar phonetic forms and similar or potentially relatable meanings, which is what most of Greenberg's evidence is. He's referring to resemblances in fine and specific detail among the morphological systems of the languages in question, specifically to the inflectional systems of the verb, noun, and pronoun, which are strikingly similar across the older and more conservative IE languages. If Greenberg, or anyone else, could produce evidence like this for Amerind, or any subgroup of it, the lists of resemblant forms which make up the bulk of his book would be unnecessary. But without this kind of evidence, the argument from resemblant forms remains weak. Greenberg's critics, and historical linguists in general, are by no means as fixated on the criterion of regular correspondence as he, for rhetorical purposes, likes to make out. It's not that regular sound correspondences are the necessary and sufficient proof of relationship--Greenberg, and Tom, are quite correct that they are neither. It's that the evidence from vaguely resemblant forms, selected from the extremely large body of data available, is too weak--we simply have no way of determining whether it is statistically significant. A few robust regular correspondences would strengthen this evidence considerably by reducing the possibility that the resemblances are simply random. _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:7>From email@example.com Tue Aug 9 17:39:16 1994 Date: Tue, 9 Aug 1994 15:39:09 -0700 (PDT) From: Scott C DeLancey <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Deep roots and measuring diffusion To: email@example.com On Tue, 9 Aug 1994, Peter H. Salus wrote: > Well, as a historian, I want to point out the internal > contradiction of (a) citing Delbrueck and the stating (b): > > >>also makes Schoenemann's point (2) moot: no one, but no one, > >>is insisting on absolute regularity. (3) Of course no > > as it is precisely Brugmann, Delbrueck, etc., through > Hermann Paul and Streitberg who insist on the "Ausnahmslosigkeit > der Lautgestetze." I think two different issues are being confused here. Neogrammarian orthodoxy insists on the exceptionlessness of sound change as a theoretical principle--i.e. the claim is made that in language change, it is sounds, not words, that change, and thus that as a change is actually occurring, it is exceptionless. No one, not Brugmann, Paul, or anyone else, has ever insisted that when you look at comparative data from related languages, you will necessarily find the regular correspondences to be without exceptions. No one could, because this is clearly not true. A major component of the development of historical linguistics was the discovery and cataloguing of various explanations for residue, i.e. for apparently cognate forms which seem to be exceptions to regular correspondence. Scott DeLancey firstname.lastname@example.org Department of Linguistics University of Oregon Eugene, OR 97403, USA _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:8>From email@example.com Tue Aug 9 22:06:19 1994 Date: Tue, 9 Aug 94 23:06:12 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: Deep Roots & Science Sorry to jump in in the middle of a discussion I have not been privy to the start of, but, at the risk of repeating arguments made formerly (for which I apologize in advance) and since Prof. Schoenemann states that he is interested in hearing from historical linguists), I would like to address a few of the issues raised by the most recent posts of Profs. Schoenemann & Salus. Prof. Salus notes, quite correctly, that the Neogrammarians believed that there existed a particular type of change, the Lautgesetz or 'Sound Law', which had as one of its attributes 'exceptionlessness' in original application. [I believe they were right, as do many 'modern' linguists.] It is however quite mistaken, as even cursory familiarty with the works of the Neogrammarians would show, to conclude that they ever believed that the existence of regular sound change implied that all sound correspondences would be 'absolutely regular'. This follows of course clearly from the fact that in defining 'regular sound change' they were establishing a type of historical event which they believed, correctly in my view, had distinct properties (e.g., obeying certain constraints) from other types of change. Since the other types of change (including 'sporadic' sound change, borrowing, analogy) by hypothesis also exist (that's what makes 'regular sound change' so special and interesting) and since all three of these other types of diachronic events will affect the 'regularity' of correspondences used in comparative linguistics, Sally was correct in noting that even Delbrueck did not expect, nor does Neogrammarian doctrine entail, absolute regularity of correspondences. More troubling, since the point discussed above is a more intellectual-history issue than anything else, is the assertion by Prof. Schoenemann that 'common ancestry' is to be favored over 'borrowing' in cases where either is a possible explanation. I should note first that I agree with Sally that Greenberg's comparisons do not pass the first test which linguists apply to comparative data (before consideration of 'borrowing' vs. 'direct inheritance' even comes up): to wit, is there anything here that needs to be explained, i.e., is the pattern of data attested different from randomness. This is of course not a particular constraint of the comparative method: this is a basic constraint on all scientific activity. Before a scientist offers an 'explanation' for a pattern attested in his/her data, s/he must establish that there is in fact a pattern (as distinct from random distribution), for in the latter case (i.e., in the case of randomness) there is nothing for science to do. At any rate, this test successfully passed (not the case, in my view, with Greenberg's data) the scientist must then abandon 'chance' and move to the next most restrictive hypothesis. This is obviously 'borrowing', since we have constraints on the types of patterns we expect borrowing to display (e.g, it should affect free morphemes before bound ones, it should pattern within the lexicon based on the type of contact -- we don't expect basic numerals, kin terms and body parts to be borrowed in the absence of more general lexical adoptions, we can sometimes check the claim of borrowing against known history of the peoples in question, etc.). It is only when borrowing and chance have been excluded that we invoke the 'last resort' hypothesis: genetic affiliation. This follows for the simple reason that whereas the likelihood that a given pattern is due to borrowing can sometimes be rendered too low to warrant borrowing as an explanation, genetic affiliation is not similarly restricted. If the similarities are more than chance would allow and we were to next invoke genetic affiliation, saving 'borrowing' for only cases where genetic affiliation could be disproven, our work would be much less productive. Again, I believe this follows from general principles of scientific methodology. It should be clear that 'related' is being used in two completely different ways in the discussion I've seen: first to mean 'demonstrably related using empirical methods' and the other to mean 'having a common origin'. All historical linguists recognize that there may be many language related in the second sense whose relatedness is of no scientific value because it cannot be empirically demonstrated (and therefore cannot be built upon for further linguistic -- or other -- scientific work). 'Relatedness' in the absence of scientific demonstration of the relationship is a matter of faith, not science. I don't have a problem with people adopting whatever nonscientific beliefs they may favor, but the scientific discourse has to distinguish between personal prejudice/belief and demonstrated scientific relationships. Mark Hale Dept of Linguistics Harvard University _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:9>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Aug 10 18:19:26 1994 Date: Wed, 10 Aug 94 16:44:30 PST From: email@example.com (Ghiselin, Michael) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Darwin CD ROM I am about to begin serious work on the next edition of the Darwin CD ROM which Pete Goldie and I produced a couple of years ago, and was wondering if any of you had any advice to offer. The first edition contains the Journal of Researches, Origin of Species, and Descent of Man, all in the final editions, plus the full text of my 1969 book a chronology, bibliography and the like. For the next edition we want to produce variorum versions of Origin and Descent and add The Expression of the Emotions and other works depending on what becomes available. A great deal of progress has already been made extending the bibliography and improving the chronology. The text of the Monograph on the Sub-Class Cirripedia is now being keyed in, and we hope to do some really creative things with this one, such as provide synonymies and various things that might serve as a readers' guide. We chose the monograph(s) because as a natural history museum we at the California Academy of Sciences are in a particularly good position to do this. Furthermore it will help to give systematics and phylogenetics in particular the kind of appreciation that seems needed. The book on coral reefs is high on my list of priorities too. I am applying for grant support for this project and just expressions of interest might help. _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:10>From email@example.com Thu Aug 11 10:54:46 1994 Date: Thu, 11 Aug 1994 11:50:35 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Darwin CD ROM Variora of the Origin and the Descent would be great! Another very helpful aid would be illustrations of the species of plants and animals mentioned. Most of the students have not seen these organisms and many do not have access to good atlases. firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:11>From email@example.com Sun Aug 14 18:51:08 1994 Date: Mon, 15 Aug 1994 09:48:28 +1000 From: John Wilkins <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Darwin CD ROM (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org >Variora of the Origin and the Descent would be great! > >Another very helpful aid would be illustrations of the species of >plants and animals mentioned. Most of the students have not seen these >organisms and many do not have access to good atlases. And a concordance? That should be relatively simple to set up with the appropriate software. _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:13>From email@example.com Mon Aug 15 08:42:32 1994 Date: Mon, 15 Aug 1994 09:43:40 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (J. A. Witkowski - Banbury Center, CSHL) Subject: Re: Darwin CD ROM > I am about to begin serious work on the next edition of the > Darwin CD ROM which Pete Goldie and I produced a couple of > years ago, and was wondering if any of you had any advice to > offer. Is there any chance of including materials from the CUP Correspondence of Charles Darwin? Some sort of cross referencing between what Darwin used in his books and his sources would be interesting. In any case this is a really worthwhile project. One thing that comes over from the Correspondence is that Darwin was a very great scientist, not just an amateur naturalist. He was continually exploring and experimenting, proposing hypotheses and testing them. He deserves the sort of treatment that you are giving him. Jan A. Witkowski, Ph.D. Banbury Center Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory PO Box 534 Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724-0534 (516) 549-0507 (516) 549-0672 [fax] firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:14>From Neve@ecol.ucl.ac.be Tue Aug 16 02:26:44 1994 Date: Tue, 16 Aug 94 09:29:49 +0200 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu From: Neve@ecol.ucl.ac.be Subject: Musical on Darwin Dear Networkers, At the moment, I am reading the interesting biography of the Huxley family, by Ronald W. Clark ("The Huxleys", Heinemann, London, 1968). On 24 November 1959, Julian and Juliette Huxley were in Chicago for the celebration of the Centennial of the publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species". Clark mentions that the Centennial, apart from symposia, lectures and debates, also included the presentation of "Time Will Tell", a musical play based on the life and times of Darwin. The great debate of Saturday, 30 June 1860, between bishop Wilberforce and Thomas Henry Huxley, forms a high spot in which THH sang that I don't see that the Bishop has reason to sneer, And I have no wish to abuse him; But taking his line, If I had to incline, Would I choose him ? Unfortunately Clark does not give any more details on the musical in his book, and Julian Huxley does not mention it in his autobiography (Memories II, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1973). Does anybody on Darwin-L have more details on "Time Will Tell" (author, composer, performers, ...) ? Has a recording of it ever been published ? Any information welcome. Gabriel =========================================================== Gabriel NEVE o o Unite d'Ecologie et de Biogeographie \ / Universite Catholique de Louvain *** Y *** Croix du Sud 5 * * I * * B-348 Louvain-la-Neuve * *I* * Belgium * *I* * * * I * * EMAIL: NEVE@ECOL.UCL.AC.BE *** I *** Fax : +32/10/473490 Tel : +32/10/473495 "The death of the butterfly is the one drawback to an entomological career" - Margaret E. Fountaine (1892) =========================================================== _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:15>From email@example.com Tue Aug 16 15:00:57 1994 Date: Tue, 16 Aug 94 16:00:50 EDT To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com ("David Baum") Subject: The one-way mirror I have observed an interesting sociological/psychological phenomenon in systematics and was wondering whether a similar one exists in other historical sciences. I call this phenomenon the "one-way mirror." First I need to give some background. Among phylogeneticists/cladists (i.e., those systematists who consider themselves intellectual descendants of Hennig) I perceive the existence of two interpretations of what systematics is all about: 1) Systematics is concerned with detecting and summarizing the hierarchic relationships among taxa. In so doing all unnecessary assumptions are avoided. In particular, assumptions about the causes of the hierarchic patterns observed. (i.e., evolution) are not permitted - the argument being that by so doing the patterns can validly be used to "test" the theory of evolution. Because evolution is not assumed, the entities studied (i.e., taxa/species) may not be defined historically. Instead taxa/species are defined based on the distribution of characters. In a logical sense, therefore, all that is studied in systematics is the distribution of characters. Thus, taxa are viewed as properties of characters rather than the reverse (Nelson, 1989). Given this view of taxa the first sentence of this paragraph may be rewritten: Systematics is concerned with detecting and summarizing hierarchic patterns in the distribution of characters. Hence I call this approach the character-based view. It approximates the view called by some "pattern-cladism." 2) Systematics is concerned with reconstructing the HISTORICAL relationships among organism and taxa. Taxa/species are defined on the historical relationships among the constituent organisms. Characters are viewed as merely EVIDENCE used in discovering taxa and species rather than as DEFINING ATTRIBUTES. Under this view it is assumed that evolution occurred and, hence, our understanding of the evolutionary processes is validly used to refine our methods for detecting historical relationships and thus in delimiting taxa. Among these methods "claidistic analysis" using parsimony is certainly important but it is by no means the only approach. Approaches using distance methods, maximum likelihood etc. are permissible. Similarly some evidence can be gained from information other than characters, e.g., biogeography, palaeontology, breeding relations etc. Nonetheless. because taxa/species are defined based on history, and history is not directly knowable, there will be some taxa/species whose existence could not ever by determined and some groups that we incorrectly conclude to be taxa/species. In view of its emphasis on history, I call this second approach the history-based view of systematics. At the end of this message I have attached a table that may help to highlight the differences between these two approaches. Here, I do not want to get into the argument as to which of these views is correct. My point here is merely that they are distinct and each is logically consistent by which I mean that neither makes any illogical statements. For further discussion of the two approaches see de Queiroz and Donoghue (1990: Cladistics). Are intermediate positions acceptable? For example, would it be valid to claim: "Groups of organisms with a unique common history and groups with diagnostic characters have the same boundaries (are "coextensive"), therefore BOTH characters and history may be used to define taxa?" It would ONLY be logically valid if the following statement were rejected (and/or key terms in it redefined): "The genealogy of organisms is independent of the characters they manifest, hence organisms with similar characters need not be related historically." However, rejecting this statement would also imply rejection of the history-based view described above. Thus the position would no longer be intermediate. Thus I have made two arguments so far: 1) there are two distinct views of systematics, 2) intermediate positions are untenable. Now to introduce the one-way mirror phenomenon. Proponents of the character-based view simply do not, and I believe cannot, "see" the existence of the history-based view whereas proponents of the history-based view (such as myself) can "see" both approaches. I feel like I am in a room looking into another room through a one-way mirror and the people in that room cannot see the room I am in. (the analogy is imperfect as they believe they CAN see me in the room with them, whereas I see them in a separate room). For example, Nelson and Patterson, 1993 (Biol. Phil. 8:441-444) say in response to Donoghue's 1990 (Biol. Phil. 5:459-472) discussion of the two views of systematics: "We do not see Donoghue's idealogical boundary, between characters and descent. We accept as true that, in his words, taxa are defined by characters, and that both characters and taxa owe their existence to descent. Donoghue's idealogical competitors are not in competition." (p. 441-442) In other words they claim that there is no distinction between using characters or descent (=history) to define taxa because characters' existence is due to history. By analogy it would be like discussing whether Bob O'Hara exists as an individual due to a) the interconnectedness and common history of the cells of his body or, b) the fact that he has certain emergent properties (e.g., running DARWIN-L) but then concluding that there is no difference between these alternatives because he could only have emergent properties if his cells were interconnected. Defining Bob based on interconnectedness or emergence is NOT the same!! (Whichever is better). Similarly defining taxa based on characters vs. history is NOT the same. Why, then, can Nelson and Patterson not see this? The complete inability to see the distinction between character-based and history-based views is intriguing. How can a distinction that, even in the abstract is totally distinct, not be apparent to some (very intelligent) scientist? I am mystified. Maybe somebody out there can explain it. Also, I wonder whether anyone has come accross analogous blind-spots in other fields. David Baum D_Baum@HUH.Harvard.edu P.S Here is the table I promised (I don't stand by every entry - many need further discussion). I hope the formatting survives. Character-based History-based Higher Taxa defined: Synapomorphy Monophyly Species defined Basal, diagnosable group Basal, monophyletic (or exclusive group) - I could write more here!!! Characters are: Defining attributes of taxa Attributes observed by humans - evidence of history Homology =Synapomorphy Relative propinquity of descent of character-states(?) Other evidence relevant to identifying taxa? None Yes: biogeography, ecology etc. Methods for phylogenetic analysis : Parsimony only Parsimony/distance/likelihood... Statistics appropriate? No! If the Yes, for evaluating the support characters have for the historical relationships been scored right hypothesized there is no need Speciation involves: Fixation of a new Isolation followed by the Character extinction of gene-lineages shared with organisms outside the species. All organisms are in a species Yes No (some are in no basal group) - needs more discussion another time. Overarching philosophy: Operationalism (Naive?) Realism __________________________________ David Baum Harvard University Herbaria 22 Divinity Ave Cambridge, MA 02138 Tel:(617)496-6744/496-8766 Fax:(617)495-8944 D_Baum@HUH.Harvard.edu __________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:16>From TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU Wed Aug 17 07:56:23 1994 Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994 05:31:39 -0700 (PDT) From: "Elihu M. Gerson" <TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU> Subject: Re: The one-way mirror To: firstname.lastname@example.org The one-way mirror which David Baum describes is not so simple. It is generally a poor research strategy for sociologists, historians, etc to question the motives or intellectual capacities of opponents in a technical debate, because such a strategy cuts off research and blocks the possibility of discovering a superior interpretation. In the case of "pattern cladists" such as Nelson and Patterson, it is a good idea to start with their position as quoted by Baum, and see what else they have to say on the issue. Nelson has pointed out many times, e.g., that the *only* data biologists have for constructing phylogenies is character data (he and Patterson have an argument against the privileged use of paleontological data too). Constructing good classifications on the basis of this character data is thus (in the pattern cladist view) the necessary first step in any further work. Thus, introducing hypotheses about descent before the classification is complete can lead to circular reasoning, and hence should be avoided. This is a very stringent position, but it isn't illogical or counterfactual. Pattern cladists might claim that there is a one- way mirror between them and descent-oriented systematists, who don't "see" that they use character and only character data in constructing phylogenies, and thus are reasoning in a circle when they begin with ideas of descent. I think students of this kind of debate (historians, sociologists, etc) have the problem of understanding their organization (e.g., how many one-way mirrors? How arranged?) and the reasons for that organization (e.g., what role for disciplinary boundaries? academic customs? differences between academic and museum settings?). Elihu M. Gerson Tremont Research Institute 458 29 Street San Francisco, CA 94131 415-285-7837 email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:17>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Aug 17 10:25:12 1994 Date: Wed, 17 Aug 94 11:25:05 EDT To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org ("David Baum") Subject: Re: The one-way mirror Elihu Gerson misunderstands what I mean by the "one-way mirror" and I wanted to clarify the issue before it gets overly confused. He seems to think that the one-way mirror involves pattern cladists not being able to see that the history based view is correct. This is not my point - they do not even see that a history-based view exists! My point is that whereas I can see the logical consistency of character-based approaches (and admire it for that if, in the end, disagreeing), character-based cladists seem unable to see any alternative to their views. Their logic excludes the descent/character dichotomy out-of-hand. This is frustrating - how can one debate the virtues of two positions if your opponents deny that the positions are different! I perhaps made the mistake of viewing the one-way mirror as a psychological/sociological phenomenon. Perhaps it rests in the very logic underpinning the character-based view. Either way it makes it very hard to continue a constructive debate one the issues. __________________________________ David Baum Harvard University Herbaria 22 Divinity Ave Cambridge, MA 02138 Tel:(617)496-6744/496-8766 Fax:(617)495-8944 D_Baum@HUH.Harvard.edu __________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:18>From TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU Wed Aug 17 13:12:58 1994 Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994 09:59:10 -0700 (PDT) From: "Elihu M. Gerson" <TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU> Subject: Re: The one-way mirror To: email@example.com I didn't misunderstand Baum's position; I pointed out two flaws in it, both of which remain. They are: 1) Ad hominem argument is a poor strategy for understanding debates. This is in addition to the point that ad hominem argument is fallacious; it is a point about the methods of science studies, not the methods of the scientists studied. 2) I think the claim that Nelson, Patterson, and other "pattern cladists" don't see that a history-based view exists is false. These authors have each written many many papers concerned with evolutionary theory. They have many objections to different aspects of evolutionary theorizing, but they've always accepted the descent-with-modification hypothesis. Their objection to systematic methods based on the hypothesis is that *starting* with the hypothesis can lead to circular reasoning. There is a symmetry with Baum's position here: pattern cladists could easily claim that history-oriented biologists "can't see" the problems which arise from circular reasoning. It is certainly the case that such biologists only rarely (very very rarely) explain why this criticism is invalid. If it is. The same issue is at the heart of considerable debate on another front-- the analysis and role of homology. For this, see B.K. Hall, ed. _Homology_ San Diego, Academic Press, 1994. This volume commemorates the 150th anniversay of Owen's distinction between homology and analogy, and contains some interesting historical material. Perhaps the difficulty to which Baum refers arises from constructing the distinction as a logical alternative between character and descent views. If one starts with the assumption of descent, then there are many interesting and important questions about characters which follow. Conversely, if one starts with characters, one can perform many different kinds of phylogenetic analysis. There is no reason why one cannot move back and forth between the two starting assumptions in different studies (or have the different studies going on in parallel). There is no *necessary* contradiction between these two approaches. On the contrary-- in the logic of the comparative method, they should come up with mutually supportive results. If the results conflict, then that is very strong evidence against the validity of the theory (the descent hypothesis in this case). So the opposition between character and descent views is a misconstruction, and the pattern cladists don't fail to see that the descent-oriented approach exists. And the idea that disagreement implies mental defect isn't acceptable. Elihu M. Gerson Tremont Research Institute 458 29 Street San Francisco, CA 94131 415-285-7837 firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:19>From Kim.Sterelny@vuw.ac.nz Wed Aug 17 18:06:36 1994 Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 11:06:25 +1200 To: email@example.com From: Kim.Sterelny@vuw.ac.nz Subject: Re: The one-way mirror On Wednesday , 17 Aug 1994 Elihu M. Gerson wrote: >I didn't misunderstand Baum's position; I pointed out two flaws in it, >both of which remain. They are: > >1) Ad hominem argument is a poor strategy for understanding debates. This >is in addition to the point that ad hoinem argument is fallacious; it is >a point about the methods of science studies, not the methods of the >scientists studied. > >2) I think the claim that Nelson, Patterson, and other "pattern cladists" >don't see that a history-based view exists is false. These authors have >each written many many papers concerned with evolutionary theory. They >have many objections to different aspects of evolutionary theorizing, but >they've always accepted the descent-with-modification hypothesis. Their >objection to systematic methods based on the hypothesis is that *starting* >with the hypothesis can lead to circular reasoning. > >There is a symmetry with Baum's position here: pattern cladists could >easily claim that history-oriented biologists "can't see" the problems >which arise from circular reasoning. It is certainly the case that such >biologists only rarely (very very rarely) explain why this criticism is >invalid. If it is. The same issue is at the heart of considerable debate >on another front-- the analysis and role of homology. For this, see >B.K. Hall, ed. _Homology_ San Diego, Academic Press, 1994. This volume >commemorates the 150th anniversay of Owen's distinction between homology >and analogy, and contains some interesting historical material. > >Perhaps the difficulty to which Baum refers arises from constructing >the distinction as a logical alternative between character and descent views. >If one starts with the assumption of descent, then there are many >interesting and important questions about characters which follow. >Conversely, if one starts with characters, one can perform many different >kinds of phylogenetic analysis. There is no reason why one cannot move >back and forth between the two starting assumptions in different studies >(or have the different studies going on in parallel). There is no >*necessary* contradiction between these two approaches. On the contrary-- >in the logic of the comparative method, they should come up with mutually >supportive results. If the results conflict, then that is very strong >evidence against the validity of the theory (the descent hypothesis in >this case). > >So the opposition between character and descent views is a misconstruction, >and the pattern cladists don't fail to see that the descent-oriented >approach exists. And the idea that disagreement implies mental defect >isn't acceptable. two points i. One important issue of over pattern cladism is not whether they claim that systematic views informed by evolution are circular, but whether they are right to do so. If they are not right, then Baum is entitled to regard their views as logically deficient. Mark Ridley, in his Evolution and Classification, gives an extensive anaylsis of this claim and I think shows its wrong. The circularity idea would be justified only if systematic hypotheses informed by some evolutionary hypothesis insulated, or tended to insulate that hypothesis from correction; it would be circular if there were no way evolutionarily-informed systematics could feedback in a correctional loop on the hypotheses that inform it. Pattern cladists, to my knowledge anyway, have made no case that such a loop is impossible; they typically assume that is there is feed forward from evolution to systematics, that establishes right there that there must be circularity in any use of systematics in the evaluation of an evolutionary hypothesis. And inspection of cladistic texts (Brooks and McLennan, or Harvey and Pagel) I think supports Ridley's views here. 2. I think it rather unfortunate that Gerson keeps taking Baum to task for ad hominem language; if any of the two have a hectoring face, it's Gerson. kim sterelny philosophy victoria university of wellington _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:20>From TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU Wed Aug 17 20:54:57 1994 Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994 18:25:08 -0700 (PDT) From: "Elihu M. Gerson" <TREMONT%UCSFVM.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU> Subject: Re: The one-way mirror To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sterelny's comments about pattern cladists' arguments are interesting, but they don't address either my point or Baum's (as I understand it). The issue is why (or if) pattern cladists "can't see" the historically- oriented argument about evolution. The validity of the circularity argument isn't at stake here; I mentioned it only in order to show that pattern cladists could (if they wished) make a reciprocal "can't see" argument against Baum's position. As I noted in both previous postings, my point about ad hominem argument is about the methods of science studies-- it's a bad strategy for those *studying* debates (not necessarily for those participating in them) because that kind of argument discourages further exploration of alternative explanations of a debate and its outcomes. Elihu M. Gerson Tremont Research Institute 458 29 Street San Francisco, CA 94131 415-285-7837 email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:21>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Aug 18 07:51:57 1994 To: email@example.com Subject: Re: The one-way mirror Date: Thu, 18 Aug 94 08:51:46 -0400 From: Sally Thomason <firstname.lastname@example.org> Elihu Gerson writes, quoting Nelson, that "the *only* data biologists have for constructing phylogenies is character data". Does "character data" include only the characters themselves, or does it also include hypotheses (based on indirect evidence of what has happened in partly analogous instances of descent with modification) about directionality, such as "X is likely to change to Y [in the presence of character Z] but not vice versa"? Also -- sorry to ask such an ignorant question -- could someone provide a reference or two to places where Nelson and/or Patterson discuss these issues? Maybe I'm not the only non-biologist who doesn't know where to start. Sally Thomason email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:22>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Aug 18 08:29:37 1994 Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 09:31:50 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Creighton Ahouse) Subject: Re: The one-way mirror (intro refs) > Also -- sorry to ask such an ignorant question -- could someone >provide a reference or two to places where Nelson and/or Patterson >discuss these issues? Maybe I'm not the only non-biologist who >doesn't know where to start. > > Sally Thomason > email@example.com Though this isn't a reference to Nelson or Patterson and Kim Sterelny mentioned this book in his post I want to encourage those who are interested but unfamiliar with this discussion to grab a copy of Evolution and Classification: The Reformation of Cladism by Mark Ridley (Longman Group Limited 1986 [QH83.R49 1986]). This book is a quick read. Ridley manages to criticize the pheneticists and "evolutionary" taxonomists, make the case for cladistics, and then argue against the "extension" (regression?) of cladistics to natural order systematics (yet another synonym for pattern cladistics). This discussion should interest those who are interested in applying Kuhn's notion of science change to a particular area in biology. There was (it seems to me) a real sense of the incommensurable when cladistics first faced off with the "evolutionary" taxonomists. The pronouncements by the evol taxonomists (oft represented by E. Mayr) felt mysterious and not particularly coherent to cladists. But with work (see Ridley) it is possible to extract the goals of taxonomists who would blend together both phenetic and phylogenetic approaches. So maybe we don't really have strong incommensurability but rather a good old fashioned dispute. (Though one gets the sense that evol tax supporters don't quite "get" the excitement engendered by phylogenetic systematics.) David Baum notes a single direction inability to admit (even if to disagree with it) the position of cladists by transformed cladists. Is this an incommensurable disconnect or just obstinance or a rhetorical move or something else altogether? - Jeremy p.s. must mention David Hull's _Science as Process_ esp chapters 4-7. This 160 pp. will give you a good read for a Sunday afternoon. Hull provides the history of these arguments and some of the personalities. _________________________________________________________________ Jeremy Creighton Ahouse (firstname.lastname@example.org) Biology Dept. Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 (617) 736-4954 (617) 736-2405 FAX __________________________________________________________________ .. animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush, (l) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, (n) those that resemble flies from a distance. from the Celestial Emporium of Benevelent Knowledge (Jorge Luis Borges) _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:23>From MNHPB019@SIVM.SI.EDU Thu Aug 18 08:49:01 1994 Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 09:40:59 -0400 (EDT) From: "Nancy E. Todd" <MNHPB019@sivm.si.edu> Subject: Re: The one-way mirror To: email@example.com ETE Program, Dept. of Paleobiology Smithsonian Institution Character data, as Sally Thomson asks, can include hypotheses of descent if one is analyzing the data through tranformation series, in which you determine and set which character state leads to which, i.e. a - b - c - d. You end up doing this for each character. You can also run the data unordered. My own personal argument about multistate characters is that if you do transformation series, then you are overlaying an idea of descent on the dataset because you are hypothesizing the track of character change. I would hope that the counterargument for this would be that transformation series are to be used as a "tool" to examine patterns in the dataset after the initial trials. I have been discussing this for a couple of years now with one of my advisors, and we can't really agree on it, although we each understand the other argument. I have been interested in this argument, and am responding for the first time, having lurked about in the background for almost as long as Darwin-L has been around. The dichotomy that Baum raised does seem to be a problem on the surface, but I would argue that it is not a one-way mirror, particularly if one is working with paleontological specimens. I am working with fossil elephants, many of which are defined by morphological characters that are parts of evolutionary trends. In this case, there is no getting around the fact that the characters are historically based, although I hope to do so. In fact, if I run the characters ordered in the direction in which the characters trend, the resulting tree does not match the trends. With this type of circular analysis, one would think that the tree would plot the hypothesized direction of the trends. Thus, I feel that it is impossible to separate history from character based views in this case. I hope I am wrong. Nelson and Patterson tend to be very theoretical about some of their work, and _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:24>From MNHPB019@SIVM.SI.EDU Thu Aug 18 08:49:11 1994 Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 09:47:23 -0400 (EDT) From: "Nancy E. Todd" <MNHPB019@sivm.si.edu> Subject: Re: The one-way mirror To: firstname.lastname@example.org ETE Program, Dept. of Paleobiology Smithsonian Institution I am very sorry, I slipped and hit send instead of add a line. Just to finish my statement. We need to be able to comprehend the theoretical and also be able to use the practical applications of character-based and historical views. I would be happy to discuss this further with anyone off the list. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Nancy Todd email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <12:25>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Aug 18 10:25:52 1994 From: Mary P Winsor <email@example.com> Subject: about "ad hominem" To: firstname.lastname@example.org (bulletin board) Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 11:25:16 -0400 (EDT) From Polly Winsor email@example.com. Warning, this is pretty long. I was interested in Gerson's comment that saying Patterson couldn't see his opponents's views as clearly as the opponents saw his was an ad hominem judgement, and thus one Gerson would avoid making. Eli Gerson makes a distinction of great interest to me, for I am an historian of biology, and I try to teach graduate students how to be historians of science. He says there exist two distinct worlds: one consisting of scientists, and the other of those study about the scientific enterprise (historians, sociologists, philosophers). For the purposes of this current discussion, I'll call the two worlds S (science) and C (commentators on science). Gerson says that within S, it is sometimes successful strategy for a debater to use ad hominem argument ("Professor X has a blind spot in his mental apparatus, so you need not give credence to what he says"). Notice that Gerson is speaking as a member of C world, because within S world the rules of debate say "use only facts and reasoning, not the Medieval scholastic tricks of appeal to authority, rhetoric and so on - when you catch someone using ad hominem, denounce them for using unscientific tactics." But as a solid member of C, Gerson knows that scientists break their rules all the time. Much literature in C claims that not only do members of S break the rules [this is demonstrably so], but it works, that is, debates are sometimes decided that way rather than by the weight of evidence. [This claim is harder to demonstrate, since there are always multiple factors at work, so evaluating the actual contribution of one is hard.] Notice that there are deep issues of value at stake: members of S believe that their ideals are Good and to break the rules is Wrong and to win an argument thus is Cheating, whereas members of C would claim that, as neutral observers, they must abstain from such judgements, limiting themselves to declaring a strategy "successful." Gerson explains that within C, members of C have learned that it is poor strategy to employ individual human differences (genius, stupidity, courage) to explain events in S; I teach my students the First Rule: that their prime working assumption must be the reasonableness of the person whose writings they are analyzing. (This is like Lyell's assumption that natural forces just like those at work around us should be what we use in explanations of the past. If we read someone who is insisting that worms are spontaneously generated, we must seek to understand why any reasonable person in his position would think such a thing, and this leads us to discover that the array of facts before him, plus the absence of facts we take for granted like how small organisms reproduce, do make the belief unsurprising after all). Things are not so simple, however. Both within C and within S, the reality is not as neat as I described it, and things really get complicated when we include the relationship between S and C. 1. The ideal of S is modelled on very simple mathematical systems like Euclidean geometry and Archimedean statics, which Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton used with dazzling success. Within mathematics, you don't debate a proof, though you might demonstrate a flaw in the logic, and expose the error of what was thought to be a proof. Against such a simplistic ideal, no wonder the actual practice of science can always be shown to be much messier. Members of S do not, and never have, limited themselves strictly to fact and reason (nor could they, as is obvious if you probe into what the words "fact" and "reason" can realistically mean). Of course authority and rhetoric are at work within S. [but how important is another issue] > 2. Yet also within C, things are much messier than Gerson implies. First of all, this First Rule (which warns against "ad hominem" judgements like "he didn't comprehend") is merely wise advice, urging one to search for all relevant factors, rather than being information that humans are all identical. Their individual differences, which actually do include character and intelligence, do affect their actions. In the world of C are people with very different approaches, and some would say history is a social science and some would say it is one of the humanities. 3. But the complications have only just begun. Members of S are quite free to dip into C for information to help them get on within S. That might mean reading or talking to members of C, but it might also mean taking time out of the lab to think about what they are doing, the past of their field, the structure of current debates and so on. So here we have the interesting case of a member of S asking members of C for assistance in a current debate. ("Tell me the philosophical or sociological labels to help me describe the stubbornness of pattern cladists.") Then the member of C says "if you ignore the First Rule, I will not recognize you as a colleague within C with whom to discuss S objectively, though of course I would not be surprised if within S you fight with the gloves off." Gerson may be nervous that any comments from C on the substance of the debate will be put to use. I know about nervousness of that kind, for I uncovered, in the archives of the Systematics Association in the late 1930s, the record of a debate centering on this same "circular-argument-if-you-assume- evolution" idea. Even though there was no clear winner (World War II intervened) I am learning that it is impossible to tell the story without my own symptathies (for phylogeny) showing through. Polly Winsor firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 12: 1-25 -- August 1994 End
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