The scientific names (nomina) of higher-ranked taxa (above the superfamily) of animals are not regulated by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, but by “consensus” among workers. However, when there exists no real consensus, a frequent situation, some criteria must be used to establish which nomen should be considered valid for any given taxon. With the multiplication of taxa that follows the development of cladistic analyses, the implementation of such rules will become more and more necessary and important. To be acceptable by all zoologists worldwide, today and tomorrow, these rules should be independent from the philosophy of taxonomy adopted, but should allow unambiguous, automatic and universal allocation of a single nomen to each higher taxon, within the frame of any taxonomy, including “phylogenetic” ones. This first paper is devoted to the detailed discussion of general theoretical and terminological problems related with this question. It is here argued that it is misleading and dangerous to try and make nomenclature artificially “simple”. The problems posed by the naming of millions of kinds of organisms, related through evolution and that have been studied for two and a half century under different approaches, are indeed complex: this complexity should be acknowledged, and the discipline in charge of this study should be recognized as a specific technical field, with its own methods, concepts and terms. Among various proposals made in this paper, it is suggested to definitely abandon the misleading term “type” in taxonomy and nomenclature, objective categories for the “usage” of nomina are defined for the first time, and a distinction is made between taxonomic “categories” and nomenclatural “ranks”.
Zoological nomenclature, definitions, higher-ranked taxa, types, priority, usage, taxonomic category, nomenclatural rank, phylogenetic taxonomy, terminology, Rules.