PhyloCode: The real problem...again

Mike Barker barkerms at MUOHIO.EDU
Sat Jul 5 03:28:11 CDT 2003

Dear all,

I just want to reiterate that THE problem with Phylocode is not the
confusion from changing names.  It is the inherent cladistic
methodology within the PhyloCode naming system that is the problem.
PhyloCode may be very useful, and indeed seems it would be, for
referring to clades in current phylogenetic hypotheses.  This is
especially true at higher taxonomic levels (such as above the family
level). But it should not be proposed as a replacement for Linnaean
taxonomy because a naming system that makes specific analysis and
methodological requirements simply legislates what are "proper"
analytical tools and interpretations of evolutionary patterns.
Further, any nomenclatural code that seeks to legislate "proper"
methods of analysis and interpretation will ultimately die when new
data and an increased understanding of evolutionary processes changes
our data analysis methods, if new thought on data analysis would even
flourish under such a suppressive nomenclatural system in the first
place. Personally, I think that PhyloCode has great utilitarian
potential for naming clades that do not have a formal rank in Linnaean
nomenclature.  But, I also think that if implemented to replace
Linnaean nomenclature, PhyloCode would ultimately be a fascist
nomenclature system as the code itself (and the organizing committee
behind it) determines what are proper and improper methods for
phylogenetic analyses and interpretation.

I would suggest that anybody interested in PhyloCode check out the
following website for a call to other people who are opposed to

Best regards,
Mike Barker

"We should realize that the game is crooked,
but also that it is the only game in town."
- Cronquist on phylogenetic reconstruction, 1988

Mike Barker
Dept. of Botany         ph. 513-461-1260
Miami University        fx. 513-529-4243
Oxford, OH 45056        barkerms at


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