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The Future of Systematics: Tree Thinking without the Tree

Velasco, Joel D. (2012) The Future of Systematics: Tree Thinking without the Tree. Philosophy of Science, 79 (5). pp. 624-636. ISSN 0031-8248. doi:10.1086/667878.

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Phylogenetic trees are meant to represent the genealogical history of life and apparently derive their justification from the existence of the tree of life and the fact that evolutionary processes are treelike. However, there are a number of problems for these assumptions. Here it is argued that once we understand the important role that phylogenetic trees play as models that contain idealizations, we can accept these criticisms and deny the reality of the tree while justifying the continued use of trees in phylogenetic theory and preserving nearly all of what defenders of trees have called the “importance of tree thinking.”

Item Type:Article
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Additional Information:© 2012 by the Philosophy of Science Association.
Subject Keywords:Idealization, Model, Phylogenetics, Systematics
Issue or Number:5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121126-101424158
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Official Citation:The Future of Systematics: Tree Thinking without the Tree Joel D. Velasco Philosophy of Science Vol. 79, No. 5 (December 2012) (pp. 624-636)
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35628
Deposited By: Joel Velasco
Deposited On:26 Nov 2012 18:57
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:16

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