Message 2004-10-0050: Nomenclatural Freedom

Mon, 13 Sep 2004 16:18:34 -0400

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Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 16:18:34 -0400
From: [unknown]
Subject: Nomenclatural Freedom

A recent thread on this discussion list has been that of nomenclatura=
l =3D
freedom.  Some participants have argued that adopting a universal =
convention for the names of particular classes of clades (e.g., the P=
an =3D
convention) goes against nomenclatural freedom and therefore should n=
ot be =3D
adopted in the PhyloCode.  I have argued that nomenclatural freedom i=
s not =3D
a central principle of either the PhyloCode or the rank-based codes, =
and =3D
that therefore the use of a universal convention for the names of =
particular classes of clades is consistent with the regulatory functi=
on of =3D
the PhyloCode.  I want to emphasize this point by pointing out that =
adopting a principle of nomenclatural freedom, either exlicitly or =
implicitly, is really at odds with the adoption of any nomenclatural =
code =3D
whatsoever.  If a person is truly interested in promoting nomenclatur=
al =3D
freedom, that person should reject all codes, including the PhyloCode=
, and =3D
adopt instead an approach similar to that described by H=3DE4rlin and=
Sundberg.  In that approach, far fewer restrictions are placed on tax=
on =3D
names than are accepted even by those participants in this discussion=
 who =3D
claim to advocate nomenclatural freedom.  Authors can use existing na=
mes =3D
or coin new ones as they see fit, and they are free to redefine exsit=
ing =3D
names whenever they feel it is appropriate.  All of these decisions a=
re =3D
left to the discretion of individual authors, and other authors are f=
ree =3D
to follow them or not at their own discretion.  In such a truly free =
approach, not only are there no rules about standard affixes, there a=
re =3D
also no rules concerning precedence, and there are not even any phylo=
c definitions (instead, they treat what we call definitions as mere =
descriptions that are neither fixed nor binding when it comes to the =
application of names).  Basically, there is no need for a code at all=
, =3D
unless one wants to place restrictions on orthography and thus restri=
ct =3D
nomenclatural freedom in this way only.  This perspective suggests th=
at =3D
the very _purpose_ of a nomenclatural code is to restrict nomenclatur=
al =3D
freedom.  Therefore, it seems that what we should be discussing is no=
t =3D
_whether_ to restrict nomenclatural freedom, but instead _how_ to res=
trict =3D
it in ways that are most beneficial to biology.  In this context, it =
seems =3D
appropriate to avoid invoking nomenclatural nomenclatural freedom in =
our =3D
discussion of the Pan and related conventions and instead to discuss =
the =3D
advantages and disadvantages of these conventions in terms of the =
communication function of taxon names. =3D20

Kevin de Queiroz
Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
NHB, Room W203, MRC 162
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Voice:  202.633.0727
FAX:  202.357.3043


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