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Re: cladobabble--here we go again

On Mon, 17 Nov 1997, King, Norm wrote:

> As another postor (poster?) commented, this is indeed a philosophical 
> issue that may not be appropriate for this forum.

If such an issue concerns how best to understand and approach one's work
in this field, it certainly is appropriate. Of what use would this forum
be if pursuit of proper understandings were forbidden on it?

> I think 
> there's something wrong with the folowing statement, which is a 
> paraphrasing of what Tom said in response to my attempt at denying 
> Maniraptora:  "The clade Maniraptora exists, no matter what it is."  My 
> background in the branch of philosophy that treats such questions is 
> limited, so I can't quite put my finger on the problem.

I can't address the original statement, but I can address what is likely
bothering you about your paraphrasing of it.

Your paraphrase lumps together "metaphysics" (the study of the nature of
reality) with "epistemology" (the study of the nature and acquisition of

The statement would have been fine if it had said: "[The animals which
we refer to as] the clade Maniraptora [existed], no matter what [process
we use to classify them]."

I suppose you also could have meant your paraphrase to say: "The clade
Maniraptora [is a classification which I or others will continue using],
no matter what [animals it might refer to]."

About the only thing I know about cladistics is that it is an intellectual
method of classifying (certain?) animals. As such, the CLADE is an
epistemological tool which does not exist in material form--even though
papers outlining it do, the fossils referred to by it do, the animals who
were fossilized did...

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