Comments on David Hull's Paper on Exemplars and Type Specimens

The type in taxonomy is not meant to be a particularly typical specimen, but simply a reference specimen suited to serve as a 'name bearer' whenever doubt arises concerning the identity of a species. The minimum requirement is that the specimen reflects some differentiating characteristics of the species. In analogy, only such individuals should be made the type of an ideological system as adhere to the principal ideologies of that system. Only such an evolutionist could serve as type for Darwinism who on the whole accepts gradual evolution and, as the major moving force in evolution, natural selection. It is very questionable whether the type-method would be of any use where highly heterogeneous, open, or rapidly evolving systems are involved. When the meaning of a system is changing it is less confusing to redefine it than to coin a new term for each change.
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Ernst Mayr (1987). Answers to These Comments. Biology and Philosophy 2 (2):212-225.

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