The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is a type-basis code. The application of names of taxa at the rank of family and below is determined by nomenclatural types. A nomenclatural type is that element (specimen or illustration) to which the name of a taxon is permanently attached. The type method, first proposed over a century ago and refined since then, is a technique for affixing a label --a name-- to a taxon. Gradually, and with no small amount of controversy, it replaced the old method of defining a name by identifying it with a taxon's original circumscription, a method that is inherently unstable; a circumscription may be open to interpretation or revision, but a good type specimen clearly identifies the taxon to which it belongs, irrespective of the scientific methodology used to define the taxon itself. Botanical nomenclature is not, in itself, a scientific endeavor, but a system for ordering information, i.e. taxa. Pervading the background literature for the Phylocode is a persistent confounding of names and taxa, an insistence that they are one and the same thing. The failure to recognize the difference has led to several very tenuous positions, e.g., that names can be defined, that nomenclature itself is scientific, or that lumping and splitting --the merging and dividing of taxa-- are nomenclatural, rather than taxonomic, exercises.

Key words: Linnaean taxonomy, nomenclature