"prevailing usage"

Dipteryx dipteryx at FREELER.NL
Mon Aug 26 16:42:48 CDT 2002

To keep the record straight and to help along a comparison between ICBN and
ICZN a few notes. See below

> > > From: Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>

> > > I would argue that one great misnomer regarding the word "stability"
is that it does not mean unalterable - which I think is how many read it as.
It means consistency of procedure.

> > > The stability in the world of nomenclature is fulfilled when all
participants are playing by the same rules, or one could say within
specific rules.  Some play by ICZN rules others by ICBN rules others want
to play by Phylocode rules etc.

> > + + +
From: "Dipteryx" <dipteryx at FREELER.NL>
Sent: Sunday, August 25, 2002 6:30 AM

>  As far as I can see stability means "names not being altered". Certainly
this is the prevailing usage! s.l.  ;-) in the botanical world: see Regnum
Vegetabile 123: _Improving the Stability of Names: Needs and Options_
(1991). Stability has nothing to do with following rules.

Paul van Rijckevorsel
> ==================

> The object of the ZN code is not to make sure a name never changes.  If
that were so there would not be so many rules on how to change them, or
requiring change.  So no stability = unalterability.  The object is to have
scientific animal names that are stable and universal, or stable because
they are universal both in form and function.  A natural effect of this is
that when constructed properly both taxonomically and nomenclatorially,
they will potentially stay as they are into infinity.   This is the
"stability" (fruit) we see.  But the real stability is the foundational
systems = consistency of procedure.  >

The current rules do no allow for a discovered "dead" name to usurp a
specific taxon.

> Ron Gatrelle

+ + +

In the ICBN it is quite possible for 'dead' names "to usurp a taxon" and it
happens all the time. In general this is not too bad, as long as it does not
involve taxa known to the general public, and especially not well-known

One of the few ways to combat changes in well-known names is the possibility
to conserve or reject names (of families, genera and species). To do this a
proposal must be written to make the case that this particular name is worth
preserving since it is too well-known. There seems to be some sort of
analogy to the ICZN "prevailing usage" although for the ICBN the degree that
a name is accepted by the general public is a prime factor (as I understand
it is not in the ICZN).

The possibilty to have species names conserved exists only since the 1981
Congress and came about through a combination of two factors. 1) At that
point the 'political faction' of those who held "if we stick to the rules
long enough stability will inevitably follow eventually" (apparently having
a stronghold in the US) suffered an attack of common sense. 2) The case had
turned up of the name of wheat needing to be changed for the silliest of
reasons, with no guarantee that it would not be reversed again soon (and
with the tomato waiting in the wings). So at the 1981 Congress the
possibility of conserving species names was accepted by a fairly comfortable
majority (although at first only for names of "major economic importance".
Later Congresses widened this restriction). Obviously a landmark decision,
significantly contributing to a delay (or hopefully a cancellation) of the
moment where plant taxonomists are strung up from lanternposts for
incessantly changing names by irate plant lovers.

Paul van Rijckevorsel

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