follycode

Scott L. Gardner slg at UNL.EDU
Thu Oct 2 11:57:41 CDT 2003


Relatively recently there have been questions regarding the
"implementation" of rules for a phylocode or Node Pointing system.

Kevin Nixon and Jim Carpenter wrote a very succinct paper on the subject.

see: Cladistics 16, 298–318 (2000)

Even more recently :

A complete issue of The Botanical Review has papers showing the folly of
implementing the NP system.

see: The Botanical Review No. 69 (1) (2003)

It appears that most practicing taxonomists are thinking that this will
just go away if they ignore it. In fact, it is not going away, and it
seems that, as in many things political, the NP system may be
maintaining itself via the Internet.

For those interested, the conclusion by Jim Carpenter is shared by most
practical taxonomists in the world and the whole Botanical Review issue
is worth reading and taking some action.

The following quote is instructive:

From:

The Botanical Review 69(1): 79-92
Critique of Pure Folly
JAMES M. CARPENTER

The PhyloCode is proposed in the draft for coexistence with the current
codes for some
unspecified period of time. During that time, species names will
continue to be regulated under
the current codes. Therefore, it is acceptable that some authors use
ranks, while others do not,
or something in between. Acceptable definitions of PhyloCode names (Note
9.4.1) include
"apomorphy-based" definitions with a single (Linnaean, if possible) type
and character diag-
nosis, or node pointing, in the "node-based" and "stem-based"
definitions, with multiple (pos-
sibly many) taxa as specifiers and no character diagnosis. And when
species are eventually
included, perhaps some authors will use binominals, while others will
not (and so forth; see
Cantino et al., 1999).

Thus, the PhyloCode is basically a proposal to abandon one set of rules
and enter a world of nomenclatural chaos.

The consequences for biological classification would obviously be
disastrous, but as a lan-
guage for scientific discourse the prospect is even more damning.
Consider again that, under
the PhyloCode, composition of taxa is unimportant, and change in
composition is unimpor-
tant; the only thing that is important is that a taxon is "monophyletic"
on any cladogram, even
when it refers to something completely different in composition
(meaning). Because the taxon
is always monophyletic on any cladogram, it has no scientific value
whatsoever. It is not a
scientific hypothesis, it is merely a definition, in words that are
divorced from reality. Propo-
nents of the PhyloCode have offered as their primary criticism of the
Linnaean system that it is
"essentialistic" as Nixon and Carpenter (2000) put it, how is the
PhyloCode less "essentialistic"

The PhyloCode should not be adopted, or even seriously considered, by
anyone. It is pure
folly.




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