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Date: Fri, 22 Oct 2004 20:23:42 -0500
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, 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= ocal,=20 historically accepted *concept* for any taxon. Despite this imprecisi= on,=20 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= =20 objections to the PhyloCode have centered on the fixation of a defini= tion=20 that does not correspond to the concept to which the author of the cr= itique=20 subscribes. =09We might assume that any well-constructed definition should please= at=20 least a fraction of workers. However, the crown-clade convention asks= =20 scholars to adopt concepts that have NOT been traditionally accepted.= I=20 suspect every expert has his "breaking point": the number of unpalata= ble=20 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= er=20 =66rom the current "box" and adopt concepts (or names) not generally = accepted=20 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 = simply=20 ignore the taxonomic decisions of those authors who use the "wrong"= =20 concepts for taxa. Resistance to Phylogenetic Nomenclature in general= =20 suggests to me that people consider this flexibility more desirable t= han=20 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? = That=20 purpose is the de facto "correction" of nomenclatural messes made by= =20 others. However, doesn't it demean our colleagues to assume that we m= ust=20 alter nomenclature, rather than believing they have the capacity to u= se=20 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= ings,=20 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= doned,=20 or solve just one problem (explicit definitions) and concentrate on g= aining=20 widespread acceptance. =09If we decided to optimize for acceptance, the Code's best hope is= =20 horizontal transmission and/ or sneaking in under everyone's noses. I= n=20 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= the=20 Code to others, it should be simple, ask for minimal changes, and off= er=20 benefits in exchange for the sacrifices it asks. Kevin Padian's propo= sals=20 at the Paris meeting, as well as the points made by Jason Anderson an= d=20 others regarding crown clades and panstems should be formally reconsi= dered.=20 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 abandoned. =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= heir=20 time appropriately. Wagner My sincerest apologies to Jason or anyone else if I have inadvertentl= y=20 repeated their arguments without appropriate citation.