Blackwell Publishing

Classification and evolution - Is evolutionary taxonomy a good alternative?


Evolutionary taxonomy: the middle way

Evolutionary taxonomists criticized phenetic systems for being idealistic; for supposing that a phenetic classification represents some 'ideal' phenetic relationship between species. Phenetic classifications try to group species according to a relationship - the ideal morphological system - that evolution does not produce. Evolution does not produce one particular privileged phenetic hierarchy, which is more real than all other phenetic hierarchies.

Evolutionary taxonomists criticize cladism for its unnecessary puritanism. Cladism leads to bizarre conclusions, such as the destruction of the Reptilia and the renaming of apparently unchanged species. It does so because of its distinction between paraphyletic and monophyletic groups. If both kinds of group are allowed in classification, the cladistic novelties do not arise.

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