Darwin-L Message Log 1:74 (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.

<1:74>From rowilli@eis.calstate.edu  Wed Sep  8 22:07:56 1993

Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1993 19:45:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Robert E. Williams Jr." <rowilli@eis.calstate.edu>
Subject: Re: A reply to Ramsden
To: Peter Ramsden <ramsden@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca>

On Wed, 8 Sep 1993, Peter Ramsden wrote:

> >  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.

The suggestion that humanity has not played a part in selecting out and/or
influencing the interrelationships of organisms - especially if you refer
to "groups" of organisms - is questionable.  Many of the studied
interrelationships of organisms in the Central American rainforest
currently suggest active human selectivity of all present species.  The
duration of this activity is somewhat short compared to the 3 million
years humans have been interacting with and selecting out their needs from
the organic storehouse.

> >  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
> >  theology.

I'm a historical geographer that is interested in the study of human
influences on the biota. The discussions on this list so far are moving in
the direction I had hoped for when I signed on.

Robert Williams

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