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History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 32, no. 4 (2010)
Article

Christopher H. Pearson, Pattern Cladism, Homology, and Theory-Neutrality


Abstract

Pattern cladists purport to classify biological taxa in a way that is theoryneutral. The idea of a theory-neutral science is, however, philosophically problematic; and, while pattern cladists’ commitment to theory-neutrality has been subject to scrutiny by both phylogenetic cladists and some philosophers, virtually no attention has been paid to the core issue of whether observation of patterns in nature is a means to theory-neutrality. This essay critically examines pattern cladists’ claim to construct a theory-neutral cladistic taxonomy by relying on observation. Special attention is paid to the observations of patterns involving homologous traits.


Keywords

Cladism, Phylogenetic, Essentialism, Homology


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