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RE: More on "Arbitrary" Paleontology
<<My point is not that they cannot do experiments, but their experiments are
necessarily different from those performed by the other sciences which
the 'classic' definition of the scientific method.>>
Right. Then I think we're on the same track here. It's the very idea of
what an experiment is, and a hypothesis that needs to be re-thought. In
response to Toby White: I'm not sure about "Law and Humanities" (we have
"Law and Economics" here at U of Chicago). I do know there is a vigorous
debate about cultural studies of science, one which I have been part of.
One book I would recommend: Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact.
Terrific book on the way that facts get factured in a range of sciences.
<<Glad you're interested in this discussion; wait'll we get to cladistics!>>
I can't wait. So I hope you won't mind if I pose a naive question about
monophyly. What do you make of the period in the history of paleontology in
which dinosaurs were not regarded as a single, coherent animal group, but
two separate groups that are distantly related? (I've run across this in
Ostrom and Wilford. Also, "The Dinosauria" suggests that "the term dinosaur
has a significant arbitrary component"). I gather that everyone (everyone?)
now believes that this problem has been left behind, and that dinosaurs had
a common ancestor. How firm is this consensus? What is at stake in it?
What sort of evidence would count for or against monophyly? What effect
does cladistics have on this debate?