Martin Hutchison (
31 Jan 1995 08:28 MST

In article <>, (Kevin Hill) writes...

>"Race" is a taxonomic concept. Taxonomists classify
>subspecies; I don't see why it is illegitimate to talk about race.

Taxonomy is no help in this discussion, there isn't even a consensus on the
definition of species let alone subspecies. For example, the phylogenetic
concept of species is different from Mayr's biological species concept (
based on reproductive isololation) which is different from the cohesion
theory of species. Some writers (Cracraft in particular) have speculated
that a general definition of species is impossible. The concept of
subspecies is even more problematic since it is based on appearances rather
than substantial genetic differences or reproductive barriers (other than
geographical). Use of a classification like subspecies is just a
convenient way to describe physical variation linked to geographic
The lack of a clear consensus on definitions of species and the subspecies
became clear in legal disputes over the Endangered Species Act, particularly
in the protection of the Red Wolf (Canis Rufus) and the Dusky Seaside
Sparrow. If biologists cannot agree on whether the Red Wolf is a species,
subspecies or hybrid swarm, can we ever achieve a scientific definition of
something as vague as race?
Biologists agree, Zoologists agree, but granola crunchers are happy to say
"Hey, this one has a white paw(red tail, little spot patterns, whatever), let's
call it an endangered species and protect it".

There is clear consensus on how we classify species. You can ALWAYS find nuts &
flakes to dissagree with anything.