The English Debate on Taxonomy and Phylogeny, 1937-1940

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 17 (2):227 - 252 (1995)
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Between 1937 and 1940 the Taxonomic Principles Committee of the newly-founded Association for the Study of Systematics in Relation to General Biology (later the Systematics Association) attempted to define the relationship between evolution and taxonomy. The people who took part in the discussion were W.T. Calman, C.R.P. Diver, J.S.L. Gilmour, J.S. Huxley, W.D. Lang, J.R. Norman, R. Melville, O.W. Richards, M.A. Smith, T.A. Sprague, H. Hamshaw Thomas, W.B. Turrill, B.P. Uvarov, A.F. Watkins, E.I. White, and A.J. Wilmott. Most of the botanists asserted that taxonomy was a practical matter to be kept distinct from phylogenetic speculation, and most of the zoologists insisted that taxonomists must strive to represent evolution if they wished to be scientific. The disagreement seemed to be hardening rather than approaching compromise when World War Two stopped the committee's work



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