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Ukr. Bot. J. 2023, 80(5): 381–385
General Issues, Reviews and Discussions

Eponyms in biological nomenclature and the Slippery Slope and Pandora’s Box arguments

Mosyakin S.L.

Following the discussion initiated by the opinion article by Guedes et al. (2023) “Eponyms have no place in 21st-century biological nomenclature” published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, in which the authors demanded to ban and cancel all eponyms (scientific names and epithets of taxa, which are derived from names of persons) in biological nomenclature, and, in particular, responding to comments by Thiele (2023) about the supposedly fallacious nature of the Slippery Slope argument (which I discussed in my earlier opinion articles), I provide here additional arguments in favor of the continued use of eponyms in particular and against politically (or so-called “ethically”) motivated censorship in biological nomenclature in general. I conclude that allowing “culture wars” in biological nomenclature and possible cancellation of scientific names that are considered (or may be considered) by some people as “objectionable, offensive, or inappropriate” will result in the nomenclatural chaos caused by a large-scale disruption of well-working nomenclatural codes and naming conventions. Biological nomenclature is vitally important not only to the science of biological taxonomy but also to all other sciences and fields of human activities dealing with the living world. That nomenclature, time-proven and, indeed, sometimes loaded with complicated but also fascinating and instructive history, should not be disrupted because of ever-changing politically motivated claims and Protean vogues. It should not become a new battlefield for culture wars.

Keywords: biological nomenclature, botanical nomenclature, culture wars, eponyms, Pandora’s Box argument, Slippery Slope argument, taxonomy

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