When integration fails: Prokaryote phylogeny and the tree of life

Abstract
Much is being written these days about integration, its desirability and even its necessity when complex research problems are to be addressed. Seldom, however, do we hear much about the failure of such efforts. Because integration is an ongoing activity rather than a final achievement, and because today’s literature about integration consists mostly of manifesto statements rather than precise descriptions, an examination of unsuccessful integration could be illuminating to understand better how it works. This paper will examine the case of prokaryote phylogeny and its apparent failure to achieve integration within broader tree-of-life accounts of evolutionary history . Despite the fact that integrated databases exist of molecules pertinent to the phylogenetic reconstruction of all lineages of life, and even though the same methods can be used to construct phylogenies wherever the organisms fall on the tree of life, prokaryote phylogeny remains at best only partly integrated within tree-of-life efforts. I will examine why integration does not occur, compare it with integrative practices in animal and other eukaryote phylogeny, and reflect on whether there might be different expectations of what integration should achieve. Finally, I will draw some general conclusions about integration and its function as a ‘meta-heuristic’ in the normative commitments guiding scientific practice
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2012.10.003
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References found in this work BETA
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Citations of this work BETA
Systems Biology and the Integration of Mechanistic Explanation and Mathematical Explanation.Ingo Brigandt - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.
Integrating Data to Acquire New Knowledge: Three Modes of Integration in Plant Science.Sabina Leonelli - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):503-514.
Cancer and the Goals of Integration.Anya Plutynski - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C (4):466-476.
Integration of Approaches in David Wake’s Model-Taxon Research Platform for Evolutionary Morphology.James Griesemer - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):525-536.
Integration in Biology: Philosophical Perspectives on the Dynamics of Interdisciplinarity.Ingo Brigandt - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):461-465.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

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