Ethics of selling

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Mar 8 19:25:29 CST 2000

On Wed, 8 Mar 2000, Neal Evenhuis wrote:
> The Code stipulates that to be a valid publication, one of the
> criteria be that it be "issued for the purpose of providing a public
> and permanent scientific record" (Art. 8.1.1).
> But how can we define when a species is really described for
> scientific purposes rather than for commercial or even religious
> purposes?
> --Neal

These are orthogonal criteria ("science" vis a vis "commercial"
or "religious", or "artistic", "spiritual" and whatever other
reasons might be underlying motivation of the person describing
the taxon). If the work is done well (i.e., according to the
Code), the name (and the specimen)  will be as "public and
permanent a scientific record" as one can expect (otherwise,
change the Code to raise the criteria and the expectations).

I think the issue that is most compelling is whether or not a
greatly enlarged "business" of selling names will _negatively_
change the face of the science. If science is diminished because
of the practice of selling names, then there'd be something to
get concerned about. Otherwise, not to worry, I think.

The fact that a sucker is born every minute is not a problem that
the taxonomic community can change. The taxonomic community can
attempt to educate the public of the issues and risks of "buying
a name", as well as what the purpose of taxonomy and nomenclature
is. After that, caveat emptor.


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