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Re: (Hopefully not much more) cladobabble



> One could debate how precisely to define the beginning or the
> end of either of these things, but that doesn't make them any less real or
> less external to human reality (unless one persues solipsism, but then one
> has to pretty much abandon science as a whole).

     Australopithecus existed.  I exist.  We have never COexisted, as a
part of a clade or any other group, until humans imagined the
phylogenetic tree as a means of making descent easy to understand.
"Descend" is a verb, not a noun.    

> Character suite-based taxa: 
> Aptness of particular names and definitions: 
> Playing in Peoria:
etc...

     This is all fine (although we could still debate it). Paraphyletic
taxa being no less real then monophyletic taxa (or, more to point,
monophyletic taxa being no more real then paraphyletic taxa) is my only
real gripe against cladistic thinking.  The relative USEFULLNESS of
monophyletic and paraphyletic taxa in terms of conveneience and enabling
us to understand the big picture is what your three points relate to.
THIS is a valid point of contention; I am simply disturbed by the a priori
assumption on the part of cladists that monophyletic groups EXIST and
paraphyletic groups do NOT shutting down the issue before we get to
determining which is more useful.    

Jeff Martz
Colorado State University