[tdwg-content] Fwd: Taxon Concept dilemma

Mark Wilden mark at mwilden.com
Tue Jul 6 20:54:45 CEST 2010

On Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 6:10 AM, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:

> This is why the only way we're going to be able to establish
> RelationshipAssertions (sensu TCS) is via third-party assertions.  In other
> words, someone is going to have to assert an opinion over whether the
> implied members of Smith's Aus bus would have included the population in
> Hawaii, and whether the implied set of Jones' Aus cus would have included
> the population in the Marshall Islands.

I think that a "someone" is always asserting such an opinion - Smith
and Jones included. There is no Platonic ideal of a particular
species. Every single classification is a matter of educated opinion.
Smith has one opinion and Jones has another opinion. Brown may step in
and decide that Smith's opinion is the correct one - but that's just
another opinion. Consumers of the classification choose whose opinions
are the most useful.

A taxon is always related to a taxon-assigner. In this sense,
"circumscription" is perhaps not the best way to think about it,
because very few assigners actually determine taxa by enumerating

The idea of researchers creating taxa, and third parties adjudicating
them to arrive at the "true" classification, is too limited. It's
third parties all the way down.


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