[Taxacom] The Doug Yanega Opinion
stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Oct 9 16:49:14 CDT 2013
The ICZN can make a ruling on any submitted petition to declare any names whatsoever unavailable for any reason. I would prefer the ICZN to make use of that avenue, rather than putting the power in the hands of others, in which it may be abused. For one thing, there would be nothing to stop the likes of Hoser etc. trying to invalidate names of other taxonomists (Wuster etc.) on the same grounds, and ethics can be rather difficult to prove/disprove! So, if a bunch of names are considered problematic in some way, the ICZN should be petitioned to consider a ruling to make them unavailable, but this should not be done lightly ..
From: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Thursday, 10 October 2013 10:36 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The Doug Yanega Opinion
On 10/9/13 1:43 PM, Richard Wells wrote:
> From what I can see a gaggle of self-appointed gate-keepers of taxonomy are now even attempting the perversion of the Rules of the Code of Zoological Nomenclature to achieve their ends by publishing and promoting the standards proffered in the Kaiser et al paper, and virtually nothing is being done about it by the Commissioners of the ICZN !
To the extent that some of what has been printed amounts to calling for
a "boycott" of names, that explicitly falls outside of the jurisdiction
of the ICZN, so we are not in a position to "do anything about it"
(except, possibly, changing the Code itself in the next edition so the
Code of Ethics [Appendix A] can actually be used to invalidate names).
In the meantime, we cannot force people to use the names that the Code
indicates should be used. To the extent that some of what has been
printed invokes the Code to declare names unavailable due to violations
of Article 8.1, that is a matter where so far the Commission has not
made any rulings, and it is unclear whether it would be supported or not.
I, for one, would be very interested to know how the taxonomic community
as a whole feels about the prospect of Appendix A being formally
incorporated in the form of Articles in the Code, such that names
published in violation could be declared unavailable. Right now, there
is ample evidence that many of Hoser's works violate points 2, 4, 5, and
6 of the Code of Ethics (4 out of the 5 possible breaches categorized),
and therefore unlikely to hold up should such a change be implemented.
Yes, I am fully aware of the wording of point 7, and I will even state
it here: "The observation of these principles is a matter for the proper
feelings and conscience of individual zoologists, and the Commission is
not empowered to investigate or rule upon alleged breaches of them."
The point is this, however: the Code is, ultimately, written by
zoologists who are acting as proxies for the remainder of the community.
If it is the opinion of the community that the Commission SHOULD be
empowered to declare works that are unethical (using certain criteria)
as being unavailable, then the Code can be changed to reflect this
opinion. But there is obviously no simple way for the Commission to
determine what that community opinion actually is, other than the
limited interface we have via mailing lists (such as this one or
ICZN-L), and specific publications such as opinion pieces. In that
respect, I have yet to see an opinion piece (or even an e-mail) refuting
Wuster or Kaiser or their colleagues that was not written by one of the
people whose works they have been condemning. As such, I fail to see why
I or anyone else here should believe that public opinion is on your
side, nor conclude that the status quo must be upheld rather than
re-examined. Is it indisputable that adherence to the letter of the law
should forever render an author or their work immune to public censure?
I think we are seeing increasing evidence to the contrary.
If there were a petition circulated, asking for zoologists to sign if
they felt it should be possible to declare names unavailable due to
ethical considerations, I wonder what percentage would sign, especially
if they were shown examples of the kinds of works that are at issue?
Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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