08.09.2014 - 12.09.2014
Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST) Course: Philosophy of Biological Systematics

Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST) is organizing a course in Philosophy of Biological Systematics targeted at MSc students, PhD students, early career researchers,  professional systematists/taxonomists and anyone who is interested in the philosophy of Biological Systematics. The course has a duration of one week and will take place between 8-12 September 2014.

Deadline for registration: 16 June 2014, extended until Friday 20 June 2014. To register and to learn more about the course visit the official webpage:

Approaching the subject from the perspective of the philosophical foundations of scientific inquiry, this course offers critical examinations of the principles required to judge the scientific merits of systematic/taxonomic procedures by way of the following topics:

• The goal of science
• The goal of biological systematics
• Causal relationships in systematics
• The nature of why-questions
• Three forms of reasoning: deduction, induction, abduction
• The uses of deduction, induction, and abduction in science
• Evidence and reasoning
• Fact, theory & hypothesis
• Theory & hypothesis testing
• Systematics involves abductive reasoning
• Inferences of systematics hypotheses, i.e. taxa
• Implications for ‘phylogenetic’ methods
• Causal explanations, not ‘trees’ or cladograms
• Parsimony, likelihood, Bayesianism: are they relevant to abductive reasoning, thus phylogenetic inference?
• The requirement of total evidence
• The errors of cladogram comparisons & character mapping
• Homology, homogeny & homoplasy
• Character coding
• Mechanics of hypothesis testing: implications for cladograms
• Character data cannot test phylogenetic hypotheses
• The nature evidential support
• The proper testing of phylogenetic hypotheses
• The myths of bootstrap, jack-knife & Bremer ‘support’
• Implications for nomenclature
• Defining biodiversity and conservation

Participants will be provided reprints covering the topics in the course, as well as a PDF file with all course slides (>800) and associated notes.


Contact information:

DEST Traning
flag big This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 308454.