Several Berkeley taxonomists thought that the article abstracted below should receive a more general circulation than is provided by the phycological commemorative volume in which it was published. The publishers have granted permission to put the abstract on the internet. Reprints are available from the author.

Stability versus rigidity in botanical nomenclature

Paul C. Silva
University Herbarium, University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-2465, U.S.A.

(Beihefte zur Nova Hedwigia 112: 1-8. 1996)
The current movement toward stability in botanical nomenclature transmutes stability of rules into stability of names. While stability of rules is highly desirable in that it encourages consistently accurate interpretation of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, stability of names is antithetic to the premise that nomenclature should remain flexible in order to express changing taxonomic arrangements. The Tokyo Code has provisions for retaining a name in current use when new information regarding the taxon in question and/or its nomenclature would result in the adoption of another name. These provisions (conservation and/or rejection of names) override the fundamental principles of priority of publication and priority of typification. Taxonomists should remain free to decide whether a name is sufficiently important to warrant special treatment that overrides the fundamental principles of the Code. Commercial interests can achieve nomenclatural stability by adhering to standard scientific names, which may or may not be identical to the correct scientific names for the same taxa.