Lect1_History_Philos - Integrative Biology 200A"PRINCIPLES OF PHYLOGENETICS University of California Berkeley Jan 22 24th What is Systematic

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1 Integrative Biology 200A "PRINCIPLES OF PHYLOGENETICS" Spring 2008 University of California, Berkeley B.D. Mishler . What is Systematic Biology? History and Philosophy Introduction Why classify? Why does it matter what we call things? To look at it another way, is it possible to think or communicate without classifications? Below are four generally-accepted goals in classification, arranged from the most immediate and practical, to more theoretical and esoteric. PURPOSES FOR CLASSIFICATION: 1) PRACTICALITY (OPERATIONALITY, EASE, STABILITY) 2) INFORMATION CONTENT (OPTIMAL SUMMARIZATION OF WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT ENTITIES) 3) PREDICTIVITY (OF UNKNOWN FEATURES OF ENTITIES) 4) FUNCTION IN THEORIES ("CAPTURE" ENTITIES ACTING IN, OR RESULTING FROM, NATURAL PROCESSES) History --Systematics has always played a central role in the history of biology. The recognition of basic kinds of organisms, their properties and "relationships" in higher categories, was the earliest biological discipline. Developments in biology as a whole have interacted with systematics throughout. Detailed treatment of this history include Stevens, Hull, Dupuis, Donoghue & Kadereit, Mayr. -- Important criteria to think about: Relative balance in importance of theory vs. data -- rationalism vs empiricism The role of technology -- a source of new characters Metaphors that people used (trees, maps, geometric shapes, etc.) The Great Chain of Being -- still with us after 2000 years! Polythetic vs. monothetic classifications "Weighting" of characters There really have only been three revolutions, in the Kuhnian sense (Kuhn, 1970), in the history of systematics (see table on reverse). Early folk taxonomies came out of prehistory and were oriented towards practicality and human uses of organisms. Organisms were grouped by
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This note was uploaded on 08/01/2008 for the course IB 200 taught by Professor Lindberg,mishler,will during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Lect1_History_Philos - Integrative Biology 200A"PRINCIPLES OF PHYLOGENETICS University of California Berkeley Jan 22 24th What is Systematic

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