TITLE

Re-writing Popper's Philosophy of Science for Systematics

AUTHOR(S)
Rieppel, Olivier
PUB. DATE
September 2008
SOURCE
History & Philosophy of the Life Sciences;2008, Vol. 30 Issue 3/4, p293
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This paper explores the use of Popper's philosophy of science by cladists in their battle against evolutionary and numerical taxonomy. Three schools of biological systematics fiercely debated each other from the late 1960s: evolutionary taxonomy, phenetics or numerical taxonomy, and phylogenetic systematics or cladistics. The outcome of that debate was the victory of phylogenetic systematics/cladistics over the competing schools of thought. To bring about this "cladistic turn" in systematics, the cladists drew heavily on the philosopher K.R. Popper in order to dress up phylogenetic systematics as a hypothetico-deductivist, indeed falsificationist, research program that would put an end to authoritarianism. As the case of the "cladistic revolution" demonstrates, scientists who turn to philosophy in defense of a research program read philosophers with an agenda in mind. That agenda is likely to distort the philosophical picture, as happened to Popper's philosophy of science at the hands of cladists.
ACCESSION #
47638047

 

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