[Some notes on relation between taxon and character in taxonomy (regarding the paper of A.A. Stekol'nikov "A problem of truth...", Zhurnal Obshchei Biologii. 2003.V.64. No 4. P.367-368)]

I Ia Pavlinov
Zhurnal Obshcheĭ Biologii 2004, 65 (2): 187-92
Under brief consideration is the problem of primary or secondary status of the judgments about taxa relative to the judgments about characters in the biological classifications. The following formal definition of taxonomic system (classification) TS is provided: TS = BT[T, C(t), R(t), R(c), R(tc)], where BT is a biological theory constituting content-wise background of the system, T is a set of taxa, C(t) is a set of taxonomic characters, R(t) is a set of relationships among taxa (similarity, kinship, etc.), R(c) is a set of relationships among characters (homology, etc.), and R(tc) is a set of correspondences among taxa and characters. The latter correspondences may be complete or incomplete. At ontological level, there two basical traditions exist in biological systematics regarding R(tc) according to which the biological diversity is patterned either as a set of groups of organisms (taxa) or as a set of their properties (characters). In the first case, taxon is "primary" relative to character (in cladistics); in its opposite, character is "primary" relative to taxon (in scholasticism, classical typology, classical phylogenetics). At epistemological level, incompleteness of the taxon-character correspondence makes classificatory procedure iterative and taxonomic diagnoses context-dependent. The interative nature of classificatory procedure makes the "primary" or "secondary" status of both taxa and characters relative and alternating. This makes it necessary to introduces a kind of uncertainty relation in biological systematics which means impossibility of simultaneous definition of both extensional and intentional parameters of the taxonomic system at each step of classificatory iterations.

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