In Andrew Hamilton (ed.), The Evolution of Phylogenetic Systematics. University of California Press. pp. 213-244 (2014)

Beckett Sterner
Arizona State University
What does it look like when a group of scientists set out to re-envision an entire field of biology in symbolic and formal terms? I analyze the founding and articulation of Numerical Taxonomy between 1950 and 1970, the period when it set out a radical new approach to classification and founded a tradition of mathematics in systematic biology. I argue that introducing mathematics in a comprehensive way also requires re-organizing the daily work of scientists in the field. Numerical taxonomists sought to establish a mathematical method for classification that was universal to every type of organism, and I argue this intrinsically implicated them in a qualitative re-organization of the work of all systematists. I also discuss how Numerical Taxonomy’s re-organization of practice became entrenched across systematic biology even as opposing schools produced their own competing mathematical methods. In this way, the structure of the work process became more fundamental than the methodological theories that motivated it.
Keywords History and Philosophy of Science  Philosophy of Biology  Statistics  Numerical Taxonomy  Classification  Problem Structures  Problem Solving  Systematics  Phenetics  Herbert Simon
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics.Peter Galison (ed.) - 1997 - University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
The Architecture of Complexity.Herbert A. Simon - 1962 - Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106.

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Moving Past the Systematics Wars.Beckett Sterner & Scott Lidgard - 2018 - Journal of the History of Biology 51 (1):31-67.

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