Are viruses alive?

smt3 at Lehigh.EDU smt3 at Lehigh.EDU
Sun May 7 22:19:51 EST 1995

In article <3obt1m$gj0 at>, edregis at (EdRegis) writes:
>Harwood writes:
>>I'm afraid I can't take this discussion about whether viruses are alive
>>or not all that seriously.  It doesn't matter what we think they are
>>since our classifications are constructs of our minds and do not
>>influence what viruses are or what they do.
>We don't just make up classifications.  If they're any good, they arise
>out of the phenomena classified.  Anyone who doubts this ought to read a
>truly excellent discussion in Richard Dawkin's book The Blind Watchmaker,
>ch. 10, "The One True Tree of Life," in which he argues that taxonomy, the
>science of classification, is not at all a free invention of the human
>mind, and furtherfmore that there is only *one* correct classification of
>living things, and that this classification can be proved to be correct.
>edregis at"186,000 miles per second is not just a good idea, it's
>the law!"

    In response to Ed's comment on the Richard Dawkin book (bear with me, I'll
    try not to get too philosophical!).

    Ed wrote: "The science of classification is not at all a free
    invention of the human mind, . . . there is only *one* correct
    classification of living things, . . . this classification can proved to
    be correct."

    Harwood is correct in stating that classifications are nothing more than a
    construct of our minds.  Furthermore, nature does not validate our
    classifications, we do.  Actually, the authorities or experts in the
    scientific community do the validating.  The only correct classification
    of nature is no classification at all.  Indeed it is the social
    construction and validation by the authorities in the
    scientific community that determine taxonomy.

    P.S.  How do you know it's not 186,001 miles per second?

                                                 -Shawny T.

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