(The following is the eighth part of a series of posts on an Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden special issue on “Evolutionary Systematics and Paraphyly”. All posts in this series are tagged with “that special issue”.)
The next contribution is that of the late Richard Brummitt who died between the Melbourne symposium promoting paraphyletic taxa and the publication of the resulting special issue. The manuscript was apparently adopted from a talk he gave at the symposium.
Brummitt's death was a great loss to the botanical community; he was influential, knowledgeable and had friends across the entire planet. In the present context, I respect him as the only proponent of paraphyletic taxa whose argumentation ever made sense to me – if, that is, certain controversial assumptions are accepted. This may sound like faint praise, but it is more than can be said about many other arguments that are used in the discussion.
Brummitt was also certainly a good writer, as will be evident in what follows, but nonetheless I find myself unable to agree with his conclusions. I will go through the paper from the beginning until we hit the crux of his case.