‘The realm of hard evidence’: novelty, persuasion and collaboration in botanical cladistics

Endersby, Jim (2001) ‘The realm of hard evidence’: novelty, persuasion and collaboration in botanical cladistics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 32 (2). pp. 343-360. ISSN 1369-8486

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In 1998 a new classification of flowering plants generated headlines in the non-specialist press in Britain. By interviewing those involved with, or critical of, the new classification, this essay examines the participants¿ motives and strategies for creating and maintaining a research group. It argues that the classification was produced by an informal alliance whose members collaborated despite their disagreements. This collaboration was possible because standardised methods and common theoretical assumptions served as ¿boundary objects¿. The group also created a novel form of collective publication that helped to unite them. Both the collaboration and the publishing strategy were partly motivated by the need to give taxonomy a degree of ¿big science¿ credibility that it had previously lacked: creating an international team allowed more comprehensive results; and collective publication served to emphasise both the novelty of the work and its claims to objectivity. Creating a group identity also served to exclude practitioners of alternative forms of taxonomy. Finally, the need to obtain funding for continuing work both created the need to collaborate and influenced the way the classification was presented to the public.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Depositing User: Jim Endersby
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:27
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 13:55
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16477
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