JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

[Concepts of rational taxonomy]

I Ia Pavlinov
Zhurnal Obshcheĭ Biologii 2011, 72 (1): 3-26
21469346
The problems are discussed related to development of concepts of rational taxonomy and rational classifications (taxonomic systems) in biology. Rational taxonomy is based on the assumption that the key characteristic of rationality is deductive inference of certain partial judgments about reality under study from other judgments taken as more general and a priory true. Respectively, two forms of rationality are discriminated--ontological and epistemological ones. The former implies inference of classifications properties from general (essential) properties of the reality being investigated. The latter implies inference of the partial rules of judgments about classifications from more general (formal) rules. The following principal concepts of ontologically rational biological taxonomy are considered: "crystallographic" approach, inference of the orderliness of organismal diversity from general laws of Nature, inference of the above orderliness from the orderliness of ontogenetic development programs, based on the concept of natural kind and Cassirer's series theory, based on the systemic concept, based on the idea of periodic systems. Various concepts of ontologically rational taxonomy can be generalized by an idea of the causal taxonomy, according to which any biologically sound classification is founded on a contentwise model of biological diversity that includes explicit indication of general causes responsible for that diversity. It is asserted that each category of general causation and respective background model may serve as a basis for a particular ontologically rational taxonomy as a distinctive research program. Concepts of epistemologically rational taxonomy and classifications (taxonomic systems) can be interpreted in terms of application of certain epistemological criteria of substantiation of scientific status of taxonomy in general and of taxonomic systems in particular. These concepts include: consideration of taxonomy consistency from the standpoint of inductive and hypothetico-deductive argumentation schemes and such fundamental criteria of classifications naturalness as their prognostic capabilities; foundation of a theory of "general taxonomy" as a "general logic", including elements of the axiomatic method. The latter concept constitutes a core of the program of general classiology; it is inconsistent due to absence of anything like "general logic". It is asserted that elaboration of a theory of taxonomy as a biological discipline based on the formal principles of epistemological rationality is not feasible. Instead, it is to be elaborated as ontologically rational one based on biologically sound metatheories about biological diversity causes.

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