By John S. Wilkins; Malte C. Ebach
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Extra info for The Nature of Classification: Relationships and Kinds in the Natural Sciences
His criteria used apparent density, elevation, height, and whether it produced rain. Particular types of clouds were called, following the logical and Linnaean examples, “species”. He also devised our present system of signs for these cloud types, and proposed a correlation with certain types of rain and clouds. 20 This is a classic example of an empirical passive classification. 21 Similar passive classifications were done for wind, resulting in the Beaufort Scale. Howard’s scheme outcompeted Lamarck’s largely because of its technical terminology and signs.
A. Sneath and mathematician Robert R. 54 Here several issues were in play. They wished to make classification non-subjective (that is, objective) and take the decisions out of the hands of biased observers. To do this they introduced mathematical algorithms that could be implemented in computer programs or done by hand. They relied upon any data whatsoever, without prior filtering, in order to achieve naturalness. Another issue was that they wished to make the process of classification purely operational, following Percy Bridgman’s philosophy that all that counted in science was how things were measured (operations of measurement, hence the name operationalism55).
Rules of description, or phytography, are roughly the same as what a modern systematist would mean by “taxonomy”: the description of species from specimens, and what he would mean by taxonomy is what we would now mean by systematics: the arrangement of the species into schemes of relationships. A student of both de Candolle’s approach and of Lindley’s in botany, was the very influential Asa Gray. His influence is threefold. First, he was American, and hence influenced the later generations of American botanists and their theoretical ruminations.