Authors
Beckett Sterner
Arizona State University
Abstract
We argue that the mathematization of science should be understood as a normative activity of advocating for a particular methodology with its own criteria for evaluating good research. As a case study, we examine the mathematization of taxonomic classification in systematic biology. We show how mathematization is a normative activity by contrasting its distinctive features in numerical taxonomy in the 1960s with an earlier reform advocated by Ernst Mayr starting in the 1940s. Both Mayr and the numerical taxonomists sought to formalize the work of classification, but Mayr introduced a qualitative formalism based on human judgment for determining the taxonomic rank of populations, while the numerical taxonomists introduced a quantitative formalism based on automated procedures for computing classifications. The key contrast between Mayr and the numerical taxonomists is how they conceptualized the temporal structure of the workflow of classification, specifically where they allowed meta-level discourse about difficulties in producing the classification
Keywords Classification  Methodology  Mathematization  Numerical Taxonomy
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2014.03.001
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References found in this work BETA

Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.Wilfrid S. Sellars - 1956 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1:253-329.
Naturalism in Mathematics.Penelope Maddy - 1997 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Moving Past the Systematics Wars.Beckett Sterner & Scott Lidgard - 2018 - Journal of the History of Biology 51 (1):31-67.
When is a Cladist Not a Cladist?Aleta Quinn - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):581-598.

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