Classes or Individuals? The Paradox of Systematics Revisited

The circumscription of taxa and classification of organisms are fundamental tasks in the systematization of biological diversity. Their success depends on a unified idea concerning the species concept, evolution, and taxonomy; paradoxically, however, it requires a complete distinction between taxa and evolutionary units. To justify this view, I discuss these three topics of systematics. Species concepts are examined, and I propose a redefinition for the Taxonomic Species Concept based on nomenclatural properties, in which species are classes conventionally represented by a binomial. Speciation is subsequently discussed, to demonstrate that concepts on the evolutionary process are damaged when species are considered as evolutionary units. Speciation should be considered a transition among patterns of a population and, consequently, always a sympatric process. This view contrasts with the majority of speciation models, which analyze cladogeneses and classify speciation geographically, usually considering allopatry the essential condition for the differentiation process. Finally, taxonomy is considered, to show that the equivalence between evolutionary and taxonomic units may also damage the practice of biological systematization. Principles and rules of nomenclature and classification should offer freedom to accommodate divergent opinions about systematics and to incorporate the evolution of knowledge; therefore, they should remain independent of biological theories
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2004.09.006
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Philip Kitcher (1984). Species. Philosophy of Science 51 (2):308-333.

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