Message 2004-10-0057: Nomenclatural Freedom IS the issue

Mon, 13 Sep 2004 20:43:13 -0500

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Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 20:43:13 -0500
From: [unknown]
To: Kevin de Queiroz <Dequeiroz.Kevin@NMNH.SI.EDU>
Subject: Nomenclatural Freedom IS the issue

     Dr. de Queiroz argues that nomenclatural freedom is "at odds wit=
h the
adoption of any nomenclatural code whatsoever [...] If a person is tr=
interested in promoting nomenclatural freedom, that person should rej=
ect all
codes." This is directly analogous to the argument that freedom can o=
nly exist
in a state of anarchy! To extend the metaphor of law and society, the=
rights that the people of many nations enjoy are not unconditioned; a=
s members
of societies, we choose to reserve certain rights and freedoms, and t=
he right
to exercise them in particular circumstances, in order to secure the =
good. Those who subscribe to a nomenclatural code may choose to surre=
certain freedoms, or the excercise of those freedoms in particular
circumstances, in order to gain the advantages accorded by the code i=
This does not mean those freedoms have ceased to exist.

     This point should here be noted above all else: in both cases, g=
proceeds through the CONSENT of the governed. A (tenured) scientist, =
in his
natural state, is free. Scientists choose to surrender some scholarly=
in order to participate in the rank-based codes, because they want th=
e benefits
those codes accord (e.g., communication, being able to publish in cer=
journals, etc.). The PhyloCode currently has very few truly compellin=
benefits, and these exist mostly on a theoretical rather than a pract=
ical level
(e.g., the ability to unequivocally associate a name with a clade). I=
f we offer
a code that asks practitioners to surrender MORE of their freedoms th=
an do the
rank-based codes, and receive less in return, will undecided scientis=
ts flock
to our cause?

     I agree that it is entirely possible to interpret "the very _pur=
pose_ of a
nomenclatural code [as being] to restrict nomenclatural freedom," jus=
t as it is
possible to interpret the goal of a government as being to restrict t=
he personal
freedoms of its citizens... possible, but very cynical and arguably
unproductive. Does the voluntary surrender of freedoms by the citizen=
ry give
the government the right to arbitrarily abrogate other freedoms? I ar=
gue that a
nomenclatural code should limit only as much freedom as is necessary =
to serve
its constituency. To do otherwise smacks of "nomenclatural tyranny."

     I have recently proposed additions to the PhyloCode (suitably ed=
ited by
others on the list) that would make the recognition of nomenclatural =
freedom an
integral part of the PhyloCode. As noted above, I do not believe this=
necessary, because these freedoms are inherent. As with Thomas Jeffer=
son, I
would rather see it in ink now than in "blood" later.

      In support of Dr. de Queiroz's points, we the constituency must=
 be the
ones who decide how much nomenclatural freedom we wish to surrender. =
we can decide that panstems are a valid expression of the PhyloCode's
"regulatory" function. Panstems can be clearly marked in the Code as =
exception to the general case of nomenclatural freedom, rather than b=
hidden in the verbage of document. Rather than hiding the fact, this =
would make
it plainly clear what the panstem convention is, a restriction of nom=

     Ultimately, though, nomenclatural freedom IS the issue with pans=
tems. We
must decide how much of our (inherent) freedom we wish to surrender.




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