[Taxacom] validation of taxon names

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Wed Feb 15 13:23:57 CST 2012

Dear Doug,


> #4 is something that cannot be objectively determined, because 
> synonymy is almost invariably subjective.

presumably the fact that person x asserted that two names are synonyms can be determined objectively, and that's all we need to know.



On 15 Feb 2012, at 18:40, Doug Yanega wrote:

> I would observe that, for zoological names, of the following list:
>> 1. Is this a name?
>> 2. Is this the correct way to write it?
>> 3. Is this name currently in use?
>> 4. What other names are related to this name (e.g., synonyms, 
>> lexical variants)?
>> 5. Where was this name published? Can I see that publication?
> at least 1 and 5 are questions for which an objective and definitive 
> answer (via application of the ICZN for #1) can be arrived at, and 
> that the answer will not change. Thus, these are things which could 
> be made part of a permanent public archive (hopefully, something like 
> ZooBank).
> #2 and 3 are things that can, in essence, be objectively determined 
> under the Code, but are subject to the nuance of "prevailing usage" - 
> that is, a sudden change in how taxonomists treat a name can shift 
> the answer from "no" to "yes" (in both cases) or from "yes" to "no" 
> (for #2). One hope that I have is that a mechanism for Registration 
> can be implemented in the future which will prevent such fluctuation, 
> and thus make the answers to 2 and 3 immutable, as well.
> #4 is something that cannot be objectively determined, because 
> synonymy is almost invariably subjective.
> Realistically, then, this list represents a mixed bag of the 
> immediately attainable, the potentially attainable, and the 
> unattainable. It might be more productive to focus on the former 
> categories, in terms of a community-wide goal. I'll further note that 
> if taxonomists want a system of Registration that will result in 
> permanently stable names, then they are probably going to have to 
> insist upon it, *and* be willing to participate in the process 
> (because such a process is likely to require public review). I'm not 
> 100% sure whether botanical names would work exactly the same way, 
> but I expect that the situation would be pretty much the same.
> Peace,
> -- 
> Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>              http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

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