Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):607-622 (2009)

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Abstract
Taking its clues from Popperian philosophy of science, cladistics adopted a number of assumptions of the empiricist tradition. These include the identification of a dichotomy between observation reports and theoretical statements and its subsequent abandonment on the basis of the insight that all observation reports are theory-laden. The neglect of the ‘context of discovery’, which is the step of theory (hypothesis) generation. The emphasis on coherentism in the ‘context of justification’, which is the step of evaluation of the relative merits of alternative theories. The appeal to a total evidence approach in phylogenetic inference. And finally, a silence about causation, which results in an instrumentalist approach to phylogeny reconstruction. This paper explores how these empiricist assumptions are embedded in phylogenetic systematics, and why these assumptions are problematic for cladists (or any taxonomists).
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-008-9122-1
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References found in this work BETA

Logical Foundations of Probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]University of Chicago Press.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1993 - Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Philosophy of Natural Science.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1966 - Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.
Experience and Prediction.Hans Reichenbach - 1938 - University of Chicago Press.
Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl Gustav Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Philosophy of Science 15 (2):135-175.

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