Is Taxonomy an Art or Science?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “taxonomy” as “classification, esp. in relation to its general laws or principles; that department of science, or of a particular science or subject, which consists in or relates to classification; esp. the systematic classification of living organisms.” Without a doubt, taxonomy is a major arm of biology.

A taxonomist and collaborator of mine, Brendan Hodkinson, recently opined on the status of taxonomy as an art or a science.

I tend to think of science itself in a very strict sense, as the process of developing and testing hypotheses. However, my big caveat is that there are many activities that are involved in (and are absolutely essential to) the practice of science that are not science per se according to that definition. This does not diminish their value to science. Some of this has to do with the acquisition of background knowledge that informs the hypotheses to be tested, while some of it is associated with making the results of inquiry available and comprehensible to the scientific community and the public.

So then is taxonomy art or science? . . .

Read the rest to see his conclusion.