On the Other “Phylogenetic Systematics”

  title={On the Other “Phylogenetic Systematics”},
  author={Kevin C Nixon and James M. Carpenter},
De Queiroz and Gauthier, in a serial paper, argue that biological taxonomy is in a sad state, because taxonomists harbor “widely held belief” systems that are archaic and insufficient for modern classification, and that the bulk of practicing taxonomists are essentialists. Their paper argues for the scrapping of the current system of nomenclature, but fails to provide specific rules for the new “Phylogenetic Systematics”—instead we have been presented with a vague and sketchy manifesto based… 


Why phylogenetic nomenclature is a good thing for paleontology and ways in which the community can make the transition from typological to evolutionary systems while minimizing confusion are suggested.


  • G. Dyke
  • Biology
    Journal of Paleontology
  • 2002
A few areas of PN that make it an especially problematic proposal for paleontologists are highlighted.

Taxon names as paradigms: the structure of nomenclatural revolutions

It is argued that the two systems of phylogenetic nomenclature hitherto proposed represent, in a generalized sense, two different philosophies for how science develops and progresse.

On recent arguments for phylogenetic nomenclature

It is suggested that apomorphy-based phylogenetic definitions of taxon names are preferable to other types of definitions, for both historical reasons (apparent similarity to existing Linnaean definitions, ability to fix "key" innovations to the diagnoses of higher taxa), and practical reasons (being useful in poorly resolved groups).

The illogical basis of phylogenetic nomenclature

The role of natural kinds in scientific practice and the nature of definitions and scientific classifications is reviewed, and current views on natural kinds and their definitions under a scientific realist perspective provide grounds for rejecting the class versus individual dichotomy altogether.

Proposal of an integrated framework of biological taxonomy: a phylogenetic taxonomy, with the method of using names with standard endings in clade nomenclature

An integrated framework of biological taxonomy is proposed, in which the advantages of phylogenetic taxonomy and traditional, Linnaean nomenclature, together with the temporal banding methods are synthesized, without deteriorating the strength of theoretical coherence.

Linnaeus and the Phylocode: where are the differences?

In the present paper, taxa (or taxonomic) definitions are used solely to describe the first of those procedures, and the “stability” of de Queiroz & Gauthier refers to the definition of taxon names, whereas that of Nixon & Carpenter discusses the circumscription of a taxon.

An end to all things? — plants and their names

It is argued that most of the apparently more cosmic issues brought up in this debate are based on a combination of a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of language, fallacious reasoning and dubious—and largely irrelevant—interpretations of history.

The PhyloCode is fatally flawed, and the “Linnaean” System can easily be fixed

There is no need to “scrap” the current Linnaean codes for a poorly reasoned, logically inconsistent, and fatally flawed new code that will only bring chaos, as proposed in this article.

The PhyloCode: a critical discussion of its theoretical foundation

  • O. Rieppel
  • Philosophy
    Cladistics : the international journal of the Willi Hennig Society
  • 2006
It is shown that the thesis of “rigid designation” if deployed in taxonomy introduces a new essentialism into systematics, which is exactly what the PhyloCode was designed to avoid.



Point of View Do we need “phylogenetic taxonomy”?

Questions are raised over the claims made by the above authors that the current nomenclatural system fails to accomplish the goals of phylogenetic systematics, and the specific alternatives suggested are certainly in conflict with convenience, stability, information content, and communication efficiency.

Phylogenetic taxonomy–some comments

Some of the practical issues in a phylogenetic taxonomy are focused on, and some alternative solutions to problems acknowledged in previous papers are suggested.

Stability of higher taxa in phylogenetic nomenclature — some comments on Moore (1998)

The suggestion that a formal code of phylogenetic nomenclature urgently needs to be drafted is well taken, and Moore is in broad agreement with the view that apomorphy-based de®nitions are not necessarily inferior to node-and stem- based de®,nitions.

Regular ArticleForum – Taxonomic Stability is Ignorance☆

An alternative to Linnaean nomenclature is concluded to provide stable names for unstable concepts in terms of communicating either characters shared by species of a named taxon or elements included in a taxon, de Queiroz and Gauthier's system is less stable than theLinnaean system.

Point of View The phylogenetic approach to biological taxonomy: practical aspects

The increasing rejection of traditional, character-based definitions of taxon names in favour of ancestor-based definitions represents one of the more important recent trends in biological taxonomy

Forum – Taxonomic Stability is Ignorance

An alternative to Linnaean nomenclature is concluded to provide stable names for unstable concepts in terms of communicating either characters shared by species of a named taxon or elements included in a taxon, de Queiroz and Gauthier's system is less stable than theLinnaean system.

A Comparison of Phylogenetic Nomenclature with the Current System: A Botanical Case Study

The family Lamiaceae was used as a case study to compare the current system of nomenclature with a phylogenetic alternative proposed by de Queiroz and Gauthier (1992), and the recommendation that the principle of exhaustive subsidiary taxa be abandoned is endorsed.


Examination of species concepts that focus either on interbreeding or on common descent leads us to conclude that several alternatives are acceptable from the standpoint of phylogenetic systematics but that no one species concept can meet the needs of all comparative biologists.

Misunderstandings about the phylogenetic approach to biological nomenclature: a reply to Lidén and Oxelman

The purpose in this response is to call attention to errors and misunderstandings in their critique so that the debate about the phylogenetic approach to biological nomenclature can be based on its properties, the advantages of which are properly open to debate, rather than on misconceptions.

An Application of the Theory of Definitions to Systematic Principles

The author shows that "homology" is a theoretical term and that phylogenetic definitions of it are not circular, and shows that the abstract concept of the biological species definition is discussed, together with objections to it.