[Taxacom] Some thoughts on the "independence" ofnomenclature and taxonomy
Paul van Rijckevorsel
dipteryx at freeler.nl
Fri Apr 24 06:43:00 CDT 2015
Yes, there is not really a "biological nomenclature".
What we have are separate Codes of nomenclature,
each with ith its own universe. They have some
principles in common (type method, priority, etc)
and their output is similar (names of species, genera,
families, etc), but their inner workings are very
"Biological nomenclature" is an abstraction. Mostly
when it is waved about, it proves to be used as a
banner in some cause or other.
Nomenclature and taxonomy operate very differently,
but nomenclature only has meaning when used within
taxonomy, and taxonomy expresses itself by using
nomenclature. The latter statement is not quite
complete, as obviously taxonomy can express itself
locally ("this is a new, unnamed species", "this clade
is worth researching further", etc) without using
nomenclature, but for worldwide communication on
species, genera, etc nomenclature proves to be the
accepted method. So, "independent" isn't the right word.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Pyle" <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
To: "'Nico Franz'" <nico.franz at asu.edu>; "'Richard Zander'"
<Richard.Zander at mobot.org>
Cc: "'TAXACOM'" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2015 12:29 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Some thoughts on the "independence" ofnomenclature
>I think part of the problem with this discussion is the ambiguity of what
>you are implying by words like "nomenclature" and "taxonomy". There are
>probably as many different definitions of these words as there are
>practitioners of the activities they imply. For example, "nomenclature"
>might be defined broadly as "the application of text-string names as labels
>to implied taxon concepts" -- in which case "nomenclature" is deeply
>entangled with taxonomy. Or, you might define "nomenclature" more narrowly
>as the set of rules associated with the application of the Code(s) of
>nomenclature, in which case the overlap between nomenclature and taxonomy
>is much more precisely represented by the top figure in your taxonbytes
>post (i.e., the type specimen and perhaps a few minor implied areas of
> With sufficiently imprecise terminology, we have broad latitude to draw
> almost any grand conclusions we wish.
> Richard L. Pyle, PhD
> Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences | Associate Zoologist in
> Ichthyology | Dive Safety Officer
> Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu,
> HI 96817
> Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252 email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of
>> Nico Franz
>> Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 7:03 AM
>> To: Richard Zander
>> Cc: TAXACOM
>> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Some thoughts on the "independence" of
>> and taxonomy
>> Thank you, Stephen and Richard:
>> My point was mostly about our preferred language and attitude towards
>> 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
>> Better for science to trade with its theoretical and practical biases
>> 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
>> subscribe to. Mind you I am not ascribing that attitude to anyone in
>> 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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>> Celebrating 28 years of Taxacom in 2015.
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