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Diagnosing Discordance: Signal in Data, Conflict in Paradigms

Quinn, Aleta (2019) Diagnosing Discordance: Signal in Data, Conflict in Paradigms. Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology, 11 (017). ISSN 2475-3025

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Abstract

I analyze recent debates between proponents of concatenation versus coalescence in phylogenetic inference. I argue that concatenation is the latest manifestation of a paradigm weaving through phylogenetics that has focused on a successive series of models thought to be justified by the “principle of total evidence.” I analyze the principle of total evidence as the main philosophical strand linking parsimony versus likelihood (1980s), character congruence versus consensus trees (1990s), and concatenation versus coalescence (2000–10s). My hope is to provide a foothold for philosophers to engage with contemporary phylogenetics, in the face of the discipline’s bewildering and rapidly expanding array of computational models. The basic idea of total evidence—include all data that is relevant to an analysis, that has signal with respect to the problem at hand—is extremely attractive at an intuitive level. However, the general intuition is less clear in the case that all relevant data are included in the overall study, but no single method employs the total dataset in one inferential step. Moreover, simulation studies demonstrate that there are cases in which excluding some data, even when that data provides signal, leads to a better result by a particular method. Each of these points is explored through analysis of the historical and contemporary debates.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Quinn, Aletaaquinn@uidaho.edu
Additional Information: ISSN: 1949-0739 (print)
Keywords: Cladist; Concatenation ; Multi-species Coalescent ; Parsimony; Phylogenetics; Total Evidence
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
Depositing User: Jordan Miller
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2020 15:48
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2020 14:22
Item ID: 17658
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology
Official URL: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/ptpbio/16039257.0011....
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.3998/ptpbio.16039257.0011.017
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
Date: 8 March 2019
Volume: 11
Number: 017
ISSN: 2475-3025
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17658

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