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Re: Caudipteryx suffered from osteoarthritis

"whether or not Caudipteryx is a bird depends objectively
on what definition of "bird" is used"

I think his point is that words don't have inherently fixed meanings,
so *choosing* a definition is, in itself, a somewhat subjective
endeavor. For example, whether we use the word "bird" to mean
crown-group avians alone or crown-group plus some number of extinct
taxa is subjective. It's just a word, and although it carries
important historical and cultural implications, it doesn't change the
underlying reality in either scenario. So obviously, the phylogeny
itself is not subjective - it's empirical. But selecting a word to
attach to the empirical observation is indeed subjective, ultimately.
We could choose to use the word "tweeties" or "drumsticks" or any
other word as the symbol that conveys the objective meaning, as long
as we all agreed to it and understood the intented content. Whatever
sound our vocal apparatus can produce that we happen to employ doesn't
matter as long as the meaning is clear.

So I agree with him that choosing to use the word "bird" is
subjective, but I agree with you that it is objective as long as we
stick to pre-specified definitions, which provide the basis for a
shared objective standard. But it's the definition that counts in that
case, not the phonemes we staple to it.

On Fri, Jan 6, 2012 at 7:39 AM, Mike Taylor <mike@indexdata.com> wrote:
> On 6 January 2012 13:21, Matthew Martyniuk <martyniuk@gmail.com> wrote:
>> But nomenclatural claims, like the one in the title (that Caudipteryx
>> is a "bird"), depend on subjective and arbitrary dividing lines.
> No.  First, this is not a nomenclatural claim but a phylogenetic one.
> And second, whether or not Caudipteryx is a bird depends objectively
> on what definition of "bird" is used and what phylogeny is accepted.
> All perfectly objective -- merely uncertain.
>> Disagreements over phylogeny and ancestry aside, everyone agrees
>> Caudipteryx is a stem-avian, and whether or not it should be called a
>> "bird" is not a scientific question.
> Sure it is.  For example, if we use the (Archaoteryx + Passer)
> definition, then the question of whether Caudipteryx is a bird is the
> question of whether it's in the clade (Archaopteryx + Passer) -- a
> question than can be (and in fact can only be) approached
> scientifically.
>> Also, IIRC the Czerkas hypothesis in that volume was not BAND, but a
>> weird BAD/MANIAC hybrid where Maniraptorans Are Not In Fact
>> Coelurosaurs [...]
> For the record, that's Maniraptorans Are Not In ACTUALITY Coelurosaurs
> -- otherwise the acronym doesn't work.
> -- Mike.