Message 2001-02-0071: An invitation to free your Code [was: Re: Fwd: Re: Fwd: Re: Codes]

Tue, 13 Feb 2001 10:35:07 -0600 (CST)

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Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 10:35:07 -0600 (CST)
From: znc14@TTACS.TTU.EDU
To: Philip Cantino <>
Subject: An invitation to free your Code [was: Re: Fwd: Re: Fwd: Re: Codes]

	Ladies and Gentlemen,

	I think the discussion of which method is "better" is, as both
David and Dr. Cantino have agreed, making little progress. I think it
behooves us to consider alternatives which do not hinge on the asserted
superiority of one idealogy (if you will) or the other.
	I invite everyone all to release themselves from the mindset of
former codes. The ICZN Code, and I assume other codes as well, is a
formalized system designed to govern the NAMES people place on groups, not
to govern the groups (be they real entities or not). It is an engine
designed to assure priority of a word, not an idea or an hypothesis. As
such, it is very legalistic, and hypersensitive to issues of spelling and
what is and isn't a proper way to use an "avaliable" name. This is why a
causal misspelling or a random latin binomial in a journal can create new
"taxa" where no one intended to.
	Honored persons, we do not *need* this perspective. For a group
of people who are challenging the very fabric of biological nomenclature,
we should all be aware that the ICZN is this way, and has the power to
enforce this philosophy, only because *we* allow it. We sell ourselves
short if we suggest that without the order the ICZN brings, there would be
chaos. We bring the order through our tacit consent, and if we give our
consent to a new way of taxonomic though, it can bring order in a
differnet way.
	While it is good to have rules, our rules can allow for same
degree of "fuzzy logic" that our phylogenies, and indeed our science calls
for. Just as the boundaries between species can be distinct and yet
intangible, so perhaps can the boundaries of their names. I propose to you
that we can tear down some of the walls of the box in  which the ICZN
Code, and others like it, have confined our thinking. Many of us are used
to thinking beyond our nomenclature to the reality of the groups we
describe. I see no reason to allow a similarly circumspect approach to our
	We do not have to be bound by ONE PROPER WAY, or one "official
form" to spell a species name... Crocodilus niloticus,
Crocodilus-niloticus, -niloticus, niloticus, Reptilia niloticus,
Reptilia-niloticus can ALL be valid ways of writing the name of the same
species. Not "options," each IS the species name, just in a different form
(the title of the entity John Paul II is also Pope, Pontiff, Mister, Vicar
of Christ on Earth, for example). None of them is necessarily any better
than the other.
	You may think this promotes chaos, or you simply may be
uncomfortable with the apparent ambiguity here. Look at it this way: all
of these forms have a common element, a species epithet (if you will).
This could be the official registered sequence of roman characters,
without having to be the "real" name... it could even be called the
"registered name," "core name," or "root name." This is the string of
characters to which the definition is attached. This string of characters
is not, by itself unique, but is uniquely identified by a registration
number, and there are numerous options for  making it unique, either
operationally in a paper, or officially. It can be made unique by the
appending of a registration number (Method M), the traditional ICZN author
and year (me), or maybe some other symbolic identifier.
	In this way you could formulate your speces usage to be as close
to, or as far from, the current Codes' formats as possible without any
fear of repercussions from your PhyloCoding friends. The effect this has
on the validity of your work in other codes is your own concern.
	So, some might ask, if we subscribe to such a "loose" idea of the
species name, how do we know when someone is actually naming a new
species? That is the beauty of REGISTRY: you can't just go around looking
for random misspellings and unampilifed binomials (as has been done for
dinosaurs, take a gander at George Olshevsky's list of non-avian dinosaur
genera someday), they *must* be intentionally named and registered.

	I hope no one find this post offensive. It is certainly not menat
to be pedantic or arrogant. As with Dr. Cantino, I am pressed for time,
and I may have risked a little impertinence for the sake of (relative)




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