Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Published: 2022-12-20

Reflections on Pavlinov (2021): understanding and expanding the study of the history and philosophy of nomenclature, a comprehensive state of the art

Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, EPHE, UA, 57 rue Cuvier, 75005, Paris, France
Onymology taxonymy theoretical freedom norms principles


The philosophy of nomenclature (onymology/taxonymy) is an underdeveloped discipline. The book Taxonomic nomenclature of Pavlinov (2021) explores the history of scientific nomenclature and analyzes the theoretical and conceptual elements that underpin this discipline. It is a rich and comprehensive resource for both novice taxonomists, interested in the history and in nomenclature, and the more experienced, seeking to expand their knowledge of the field. In addition to the review, a deepening of the notions of taxonomic freedom and nomenclatural norms and principles, and a consensus on the binominal vs. binomial debate are proposed. The new concepts of methodology freedom and quality freedom are introduced, as well as some reflections on the notions of monosemy and universality.


  1. Anonymous [International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature] (1999) International code of zoological nomenclature. Fourth edition. London (International Trust for zoological Nomenclature): i–xxix + 1–306.

  2. Aescht, E. (2018) Reflecting on a theory of biological nomenclature (onymology). Alytes, 36 (1–4): 212–237.

  3. Ahrens, D., Ahyong, S. T., Ballerio, A., Barclay, M., Eberle, J., Espeland, M., Huber, B. A., Mengual, X., Pacheco, T. L., Peters, R. S., Rulik, B., Vaz-DE-Mello, F., Wesener, T., & Krell, F. T. (2021) Is it time to describe new species without diagnoses? A comment on Sharkey et al. (2021). Zootaxa, 5027 (2): 151–159. <>.

  4. Aubert (2016) Doit-on parler de ‘nomenclature binomiale’ ou bien de ‘nomenclature binominale’? La Banque des Mots, 91: 7–14.

  5. Batsch, A. J. G. K. (1796) Umriß der gesammten Naturgeschichte: ein Auszug aus den frühern Handbüchern des Verfassers für seine Vorfesungen. Jena & Leipzig (Christian Ernst Gabler): i–xvi + 1–287 + 3–160 + [1–32] + [i–vi] + 1–80.

  6. Brickell, C. D., Alexander, C., David, J. C., Hoffman, M. H. A., Leslie, A.C., Malécot, V. & Xiaobai, J. (ed.). 2016. International code of nomenclature for cultivated plants incorporating the Rules and Recommendations for naming plants in cultivation. 9th edition. Leuven (ISHS): i–xvii + 1–190.

  7. Cantino, P. D. & Queiroz, K. de (2020) International code of phylogenetic nomenclature (PhyloCode): a phylogenetic code of biological nomenclature. Boca Raton, Florida (CRC Press): 1–189. <>.

  8. Corliss, J. O. (1995) The ambiregnal protists and the codes of nomenclature: a brief review of the problem and of proposed solutions. Bulletin of zoological Nomenclature, 52 (1): 11–17. <>.

  9. Dubois, A. (2000) Synonymies and related lists in zoology: general proposals, with examples in herpetology. Dumerilia, 4 (2): 33–98.

  10. Dubois, A. (2004) The higher nomenclature of recent amphibians. Alytes, 22 (1–2): 1–14.

  11. Dubois, A. (2005) Proposed Rules for the incorporation of nomina of higher-ranked zoological taxa in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. 1. Some general questions, concepts and terms of biological nomenclature. Zoosystema, 27 (2): 365–426. <>.

  12. Dubois, A. (2008) A partial but radical solution to the problem of nomenclatural taxonomic inflation and synonymy load. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 93: 857–863. <>.

  13. Dubois, A. (2013) Zygoidy, a new nomenclatural concept. Bionomina, 6: 1–25. <>.

  14. Dubois, A., Bauer, A. M., Ceríaco, L. M. P., Dusoulier, F., Frétey, T., Löbl, I., Lorvelec, O., Ohler, A., Stopiglia, R. & Aescht, E. (2019) The Linz Zoocode project: a set of new proposals regarding the terminology, the Principles and Rules of zoological nomenclature. First report of activities (2014‒2019). Bionomina, 17: 1–111. <>.

  15. Greuter, W., Garrity, G., Hawksworth, D., Jahn, R., Kirk, P., Knapp, S., McNeill, J., Michel, E., Patterson, D., Pyle, R. & Tindall, B. (2011) Draft BioCode (2011): Principles and Rules regulating the naming of organisms. Taxon, 60 (1): 201–212. <>.

  16. Hawksworth, D. L. (2010) Terms used in bionomenclature. The naming of organisms (and plant communities). Copenhagen (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): 1–216. <>.

  17. Jones, B. (2017) A few bad scientists are threatening to topple taxonomy. Smithsonian Magazine, 7 September 2017. <>.

  18. Kaiser, H. (2013) The Taxon Filter, a novel mechanism designed to facilitate the relationship between taxonomy and nomenclature, vis-à-vis the utility of the Code’s Article 81 (the Commission’s plenary power). Bulletin of zoological Nomenclature, 70 (4): 293–302. <>.

  19. Knapp, S., Lamas, G., Lughadha, E. N., & Novarino, G. (2004). Stability or stasis in the names of organisms: the evolving codes of nomenclature. Philosophical Transactions of the royal Society of London, (Series B, Biological Sciences), 359 (1444): 611–622. <>.

  20. Laurin, M. (2008) Le PhyloCode. In: D. Prat, A. Raynal-Roques & A. Roguenant (ed.) Peut-on classer le vivant?, Linné et la systématique aujourd’hui, Paris (Belin): 411–420.

  21. Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Editio decima, reformata. Tomus 1. Holmiae (Laurentii Salvii): [i–iv] + 1–824. <>.

  22. Malécot, V. (2008) Les règles de nomenclature. Histoire et fonctionnement. Biosystema, 25: 41–76.

  23. Mayr, E. (1969) Principles of systematic zoology. New York (McGraw Hill): 1–428.

  24. Meier, R., Blaimer, B. B., Buenaventura, E., Hartop, E., von Rintelen, T., Srivathsan, A. & Yeo, D. (2022) A re-analysis of the data in Sharkey et al.’s (2021) minimalist revision reveals that BINs do not deserve names, but BOLD Systems needs a stronger commitment to open science. Cladistics, 38 (2): 264–275. <>.

  25. Pavlinov, I. Y. (2021) Taxonomic nomenclature: What’s in a name – Theory and history. Boca Raton FL (CRC press): 1–265. [ISBN 9781032015071]. <>.

  26. Pavlinov, I. Y. (2014) Таксономическая номенклатура: книга 2. От Линнея до первых кодексов. [Taxonomic nomenclature. Book 2. From Linnaeus to first Codes.] Moscow (KMK Scientific Press): 1–223. 

  27. Rowe, T. & Gauthier, J. (1992). Ancestry, paleontology, and definition of the name Mammalia. Systematic Biology, 41 (3): 372–378. <>.

  28. Sharkey, M. J., Brown, B., Baker, A. & Mutanen, M. (2021b) Response to Zamani et al. (2020): the omission of critical data in the pursuit of ‘revolutionary’ methods to accelerate the description of species. ZooKeys, 1033: 191–201. <>.

  29. Sharkey, M. J., Janzen, D. H., Hallwachs, W., Chapman, E. G., Smith, M. A., Dapkey, T., Brown, A., Ratnasingham, S., Naik, S., Manjunath, R., Perez, K., Milton, M., Hebert, P., Shaw, S. R., Kittel, R. N., Solis, M. A., Metz, M. A., Goldstein, P. Z., Brown, J. W., Quicke, D. L. J., van Achterberg, C., Brown, B.V. & Burns, J. M. (2021a) Minimalist revision and description of 403 new species in 11 subfamilies of Costa Rican braconid parasitoid wasps, including host records for 219 species. ZooKeys, 1013: 1–665. <>.

  30. Tschudi, J. J. (1838). Classification der Batrachier mit Berücksichtigung der fossilen Thiere dieser Abtheilung der Reptilien.  Neuchâtel (Petitpierre): 1–99. <>.

  31. Turland, N. J., Wiersema, J. H., Barrie, F. R., Greuter, W., Hawksworth, D. L., Herendeen, P. S., Knapp, S., Kusber, W.-H., Li, D.-Z., Marhold, K., May, T. W., McNeill, J., Monro, A. M., Prado, J., Price, M. J. & Smith, G. F. (ed.) (2018) International code of nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Shenzhen Code) adopted by the Nineteenth International Botanical Congress Shenzhen, China, July 2017. Regnum Vegetabile, 159. Glashütten, Germany (Koeltz Botanical Books). <>.

  32. Zamani, A., Fric, Z. F., Gante, H. F., Hopkins, T., Orfinger, A. B., Scherz, M. D., Sucháčková Bartoňová, A. & Dal Pos, D. (2022) DNA barcodes on their own are not enough to describe a species. Systematic Entomology, 47 (3): 385–389. <>.