[Taxacom] Some thoughts on the "independence" of nomenclature and taxonomy

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Wed Apr 22 12:42:13 CDT 2015

I think Nico's comments pertain to the practice of science in general in
addition to taxonomy and systematics. The language of science is laden with
terminology that lulls one into complacency unless one takes the effort to
question it. I am guilty as anyone else for using propaganda, and may have
even used 'objective', although I hope it was in the context of being 'more
objective', but of course it is a matter of judgment. One term I have seen
used often in molecular systematics is "overwhelming evidence" as if saying
it is sufficient justification for saying it.

John Grehan

On Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 1:02 PM, Nico Franz <nico.franz at asu.edu> wrote:

> Thank you, Stephen and Richard:
>    My point was mostly about our preferred language and attitude towards
> the relationship of nomenclature and taxonomy (than about the relationship
> as routinely practiced).
>    I tend to be skeptical of any turn in the history of our field where
> folks start to use terms like neutral, independent, objective, just the
> observed patterns, and similar notions that may in some cases (and to my
> mind) be vestiges or new shoots of (again, to my mind) an over-the-top
> philosophical stance. Beware of claims of neutrality and independence,
> because often enough they may turn out to be "just a different kind of
> bias". Better for science to trade with its theoretical and practical
> biases openly.
>    The attitude that the rules of nomenclature in no significant ways
> reflect on our (i.e., human mainstream taxonomists') prevailing thinking of
> what constitutes good taxonomy is a biased one, and it is a bias that I
> would not subscribe to. Mind you I am not ascribing that attitude to anyone
> in particular, but again, I am skeptical that the language of independent
> and neutral practices helps us in the long run.
> Cheers, Nico
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