Biology & Philosophy

, 33:8 | Cite as

Fifty shades of cladism

  • Andrew V. Z. Brower


Quinn (Biol Philos 32:581–598, 2017) offered seven definitions of “cladist” and discussed the context in which they are used in relation to historical and current debates in systematics. As a member of her study taxon, I offer some contextual color commentary, clarifications on the views of “pattern cladists” regarding monophyly, ancestors, synapomorphy and other concepts, a definition of “syncretist”, and some thoughts on cladistics and philosophy in the twenty first century.


Cladistics Phylogenetics Systematics Hennig Society Parsimony Syncretism 



I think Aleta Quinn for providing the impetus for writing this essay, and anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. Support for work in my lab was provided through a collaborative grant, Dimensions US-Biota-São Paulo: Assembly and evolution of the Amazon biota and its environment: an integrated approach, supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF DEB 1241056), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP Grant 2012/50260-6).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evolution and Ecology Group, Department of BiologyMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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