Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 87–97 | Cite as

In defence of taxonomic governance

  • Stijn ConixEmail author
Forum Paper


It is well known that taxonomists rely on many different methods and criteria for species delimitation, leading to different kinds of groups being recognised as species. While this state of relative disorder is widely acknowledged, there is no similar agreement about how it should be resolved. This paper considers the view that the disorder in species classification should be resolved by a system of taxonomic governance. I argue that such a system of governance is best seen as a combination of standardisation, unification and regulation, each of which can be implemented in different forms. I investigate the forms that these three components should take for taxonomic governance by looking into two successfully governed classification systems, namely, virus classification and enzyme classification. The last part of the paper then defends the governance view against five objections.


Taxonomic disorder Governance Standardisation Unification Regulation Species classification Species problem 



I am very grateful to Frank Zachos and an anonymous reviewer for very helpful feedback that substantially improved this forum paper.

Funding information

Work on this paper was supported by the KU Leuven Onderzoeksraad, grant 3H160214.


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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