Message 2004-10-0195: Death of the PhyloCode?

Fri, 22 Oct 2004 20:23:42 -0500

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Date: Fri, 22 Oct 2004 20:23:42 -0500
From: [unknown]
Cc:,,,, Dequeiroz.Kevin@NM=
Subject: Death of the PhyloCode?

Pardon the long post. Please bear with me...

=09By extension of the arguments in Joyce et al., there is no unequiv=
historically accepted *concept* for any taxon. Despite this imprecisi=
most workers apparently subscribe to one of a small number of "cluste=
rs" of=20
fundamentally similar concepts for taxon names. Under the PhyloCode, =
we ask=20
systematists to accept a single concept for all time. The bulk of the=
objections to the PhyloCode have centered on the fixation of a defini=
that does not correspond to the concept to which the author of the cr=

=09We might assume that any well-constructed definition should please=
least a fraction of workers. However, the crown-clade convention asks=
scholars to adopt concepts that have NOT been traditionally accepted.=
suspect every expert has his "breaking point": the number of unpalata=
taxon concepts he can accept before a proposed taxonomic system becom=
es too=20
cumbersome or objectionable to use. What will happen as we step farth=
=66rom the current "box" and adopt concepts (or names) not generally =
by anyone?

=09I accept the prediction of others that the taxon concept issue may=
 well be=20
the death of the PhyloCode. Under the rank-based codes, a worker can =
ignore the taxonomic decisions of those authors who use the "wrong"=
concepts for taxa. Resistance to Phylogenetic Nomenclature in general=
suggests to me that people consider this flexibility more desirable t=
having stable definitions (as noted in print by Bryant and Cantino).

=09I previously accepted the crown-clade convention: we do have to pi=
ck one=20
concept to hang the name on, why not pick one that serves a purpose? =
purpose is the de facto "correction" of nomenclatural messes made by=
others. However, doesn't it demean our colleagues to assume that we m=
alter nomenclature, rather than believing they have the capacity to u=
nomenclature properly?

=09I appreciate the efforts of many members of the ISPN to formulate =
a Code=20
that is, in many ways, an ideal nomenclatural system. As with most th=
it is impossible to optimize two attributes, idealism and practicalit=
y, in=20
the same document. We should decide as a group whether we want to sol=
ve all=20
of the problems of nomenclature at once, and risk the Code being aban=
or solve just one problem (explicit definitions) and concentrate on g=
widespread acceptance.

=09If we decided to optimize for acceptance, the Code's best hope is=
horizontal transmission and/ or sneaking in under everyone's noses. I=
order for "sneaking" to occur, the Code must be transparent, such tha=
t it=20
can be used without drawing any attention to itself. In order to sell=
Code to others, it should be simple, ask for minimal changes, and off=
benefits in exchange for the sacrifices it asks. Kevin Padian's propo=
at the Paris meeting, as well as the points made by Jason Anderson an=
others regarding crown clades and panstems should be formally reconsi=
Any rules or suggestions that indicate a particular name, type of nam=
e, or=20
formula for newly coined taxa violate nomenclatural freedom and shoul=
d be=20

=09If we want to create an ideal system, this should be decided now, =
so that=20
those who want to see an acceptable Code can consider re-allocating t=
time appropriately.


My sincerest apologies to Jason or anyone else if I have inadvertentl=
repeated their arguments without appropriate citation.


Feedback to <> is welcome!