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Taxonomic names and phylogenetic trees
1998 (English)In: Zoologica Scripta, ISSN 0300-3256, E-ISSN 1463-6409, Vol. 27, no 4, 381-390 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper addresses the issue of philosophy of names within the context of biological taxonomy, more specifically how names refer. By contrasting two philosophies of names, one that is based on the idea that names can be defined and one that they cannot be defined, I point out some advantages of the latter within phylogenetic systematics. Due to the changing nature of phylogenetic hypotheses, the former approach tends to rob taxonomy from its unique communicative value since a name that is defined refers to whatever fits the definition. This is particularly troublesome should the hypothesis of phylogenetic relationship change. I argue that, should we decide to accept a new phylogenetic hypothesis, it is also likely that our view of what to name may change. A system where names only refer acknowledge this, and accordingly leaves it open whether to keep a name (and accept the way it refers in the new hypothesis) or discard a name and introduce new names for the parts of the tree that we find scientifically interesting. One of the main differences between a phylogenetic system of definition (PSD) and a phylogenetic system of reference (PSR) is that the former is governed by laws of language while the latter by communicative needs of taxonomists. Thus, a PSR tends to give primacy to phylogenetic trees rather than phylogenetic definitions of names should our views of which phylogenetic hypothesis to accept change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1998. Vol. 27, no 4, 381-390 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-6084DOI: 10.1111/j.1463-6409.1998.tb00469.xOAI: diva2:395889
Available from: 2011-02-08 Created: 2011-02-07 Last updated: 2011-02-08Bibliographically approved

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Härlin, Mikael
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