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HP Pharris asserted:
>At some point or another, every honest taxonomist must admit to him- or
herself that if we truly had the capability to observe the origin and
development of every individual organism that ever lived on earth, we would
find that there are no distinct groups to name.<

HP Norton responded:
Since the physical differences between organisms are >real<, this line of
reasoning seems a bit illogical to me.  What if we had every individual
organism (N) minus 1? Would it collapse then? Or N minus 5%?, or 10%?

More directly, can we not assert that each species is the result of changes
to a different species?  If this is true, then it is possible to know by
observation which species gave rise to the new species, as with those birds
on isolated islands.
Absent observation, isn't taxonomy an attempt to use logic to substitute for
observation?  And isn't the problem of taxonomy the difficulty of
eliminating possible alternative hypotheses?
I had thought of the 'distinct groups' as a way to lessen this problem by
asserting connection at a higher level by saying 'these animals are closely
related'.  If you can't assert one animal is ancestral to another, at least
you can say that the two animals have a greater propinquity (of ancestry)
than other animals.
Or not.