Complex environmental problems require well-researched policies that integrate knowledge from both the natural and social sciences. Epistemic differences can impede interdisciplinary collaboration, as shown by debates between conservation biologists and anthropologists who are working to preserve biological diversity and support economic development in central Africa. Disciplinary differences with regard to 1) facts, 2) rigor, 3) causal explanation, and 4) research goals reinforce each other, such that early decisions about how to define concepts or which methods to adopt may tilt research (...) design and data interpretation toward one discipline’s epistemological framework. If one of the contributing fields imposes a solution to an epistemic problem, this sets the stage for what I call disciplinary capture. Avoiding disciplinary capture requires clear communication between collaborators, but beyond this it also requires that collaborators craft research questions and innovate research designs which are different from the inherited epistemological frameworks of contributing disciplines. (shrink)
Philosophers increasingly engage in practical work with other disciplines and the world at large. This volume draws together the lessons learned from this work--including philosophers' contributions to scientific research projects, consultations on matters of policy, and expertise provided to government agencies and non-profits--on how to effectively practice philosophy. Its 22 case studies are organized into five sections: I Collaboration and Communication II Policymaking and the Public Sphere III Fieldwork in the Academy IV Fieldwork in the Professions V Changing Philosophical Practice (...) Together, these essays provide a practical, how-to guide for doing philosophy in the field--how to find problems that can benefit from philosophical contributions, effectively collaborate with other professionals and community members, make fieldwork a positive part of a philosophical career, and anticipate and negotiate the sorts of unanticipated problems that crop up in direct public engagement. Key features: Gives specific advice on how to integrate philosophy with outside groups. Offers examples from working with the public and private sectors, community organizations, and academic groups. Provides lessons learned, often summarized at the end of chapters, for how to practice philosophy in the field. (shrink)
We argue that the wild release of genetically modified organisms can be justified as a way of preserving species and ecosystems. We look at the case of a genetically modified American chestnut that is currently undergoing regulatory review. Because American chestnuts are functionally extinct, a genetically modified replacement has significant conservation value. In addition, many of the arguments used against GMOs, especially GMO crops, do not hold for American chestnut trees. Finally, we show how GMOs such as the American chestnut (...) support a reorientation of conservation values away from restoration as it has historically been interpreted, and toward an alternative framework known as rewilding. (shrink)
Academic philosophy constructs theoretical resources for understanding society by refining reasoning tools, categorizing experience, studying what is valuable and why, and reflecting on knowledge itself. Public philosophy serves a social function by bringing philosophical methods, expertise, and insights to bear on concrete issues, in concrete situations, and in dialogue with actual stakeholders. Public philosophers rarely achieve the cultural prominence of public intellectuals and often have different and more local goals than the political influence typically ascribed to public intellectuals. The chapter (...) examines the specific activities and roles that philosophers play in various public contexts when they construct and evaluate arguments. These six strategies demonstrate the range of philosophy's public value. The strategies, or functions, are classification, criticism, translation, expansion, normativity, and reflection. Philosophers have different ways of engaging in public‐facing activities, and public philosophy can play different roles in an academic career. Public philosophy responds to the changing role of the university and academic research. (shrink)
Abstract: This essay explores the relation between feminist epistemology and the problem of philosophical skepticism. Even though feminist epistemology has not typically focused on skepticism as a problem, I argue that a feminist contextualist epistemology may solve many of the difficulties facing recent contextualist responses to skepticism. Philosophical skepticism appears to succeed in casting doubt on the very possibility of knowledge by shifting our attention to abnormal contexts. I argue that this shift in context constitutes an attempt to exercise unearned (...) social and epistemic power and that it should be resisted on epistemic and pragmatic grounds. I conclude that skepticism is a problem that feminists can and should take up as they address the social aspects of traditional epistemological problems. (shrink)
Among Bryan Norton’s most influential contributions to environmental philosophy has been his analysis and evaluation of democratic processes for environmental decision-making. He examines actual cases of environmental decision-making in their legal, political, ethical and scientific contexts, and, with contextual constraints and goals in mind, he theorizes concerning what they accomplish and how they can be improved. Informed by the political theories of both John Dewey and Jürgen Habermas, Norton’s pragmatist approach holds that appropriate democratic decision procedures will generate broadly defensible (...) decisions. Thus, his view of environmental decision-making is based in—and requires—inclusive, democratic, empirical inquiry. While accepting these criteria, I examine how, in practice, it is difficult to identify when these conditions have been adequately met. I investigate the limitations of Norton’s proceduralist approach through a case study in community-based forest management in a New York State urban old-growth park. I argue that Norton’s procedural priorities are too rigid given the contextual constraints of local decision-making. While they are useful for guiding an ideal, high standards sense of the decision-making process, less rigid Deweyan considerations of social learning and community engagement often provide sufficient guidelines for evaluating success. (shrink)
Environmental pragmatists are committed to analyzing questions of environmental policy. Bryan Norton's pragmatic critique of environmental decision-making shows how an implicit commitment to the fact/value distinction has hindered productive environmental action. Nonetheless, Norton, as well as the majority of environmental ethicists, have devoted more attention to theorizing value disagreements as a primary cause of controversy than to examining epistemic structures. A case study demonstrates why and how Norton's procedural account may be supplemented with sensitive attention to the construction of epistemic (...) authority in environmental disputes. I recommend supporting the development of local knowledges and just distributions of epistemic authority. (shrink)
Among other things, the philosophical tradition of pragmatism provides a theory of inquiry and a theory of collective action. The theory of inquiry frames how humans investigate their problems and devise solutions; the theory of collective action frames how we work together to implement solutions to shared problems. Though philosophical, pragmatism aims to integrate philosophy and practice by developing theory that is useful for solving the problems that press on people’s lives. In spite of this intention, and perhaps because of (...) disciplinary boundaries, practitioners in the social sciences, sciences, and professions do not always see pragmatism as being as relevant and useful as philosophers have hoped and.. (shrink)
There are benefits to organizing an introductory ethics course around the ethical, social, and political questions related to climate change. One topic such a course may fruitfully explore is the issue of whether, when, and how climate scientists should advocate for climate policy. When is scientific advocacy a failure of scientific objectivity, and what are the ethical consequences of scientists attempting to influence policy objectives? This paper lays out a method for using illustrative case studies that helps students understand, first, (...) how scientists interact with policy-makers and the public and, second, the reasons why such activity can—in many actual cases—be seen as ethically unproblematic. (shrink)
Christian Diehm has argued against using a genetically modified American chestnut variety in forest restoration. He is concerned that a GM variety sets a bad precedent and is disrespectful toward nature. He is also concerned that not enough has been done to consult with Native American tribes. We give evidence that consultation with tribes, environmental organizations, and the public is valuable and necessary – and that there is support for the GM chestnut. Genetic modification that saves a species from functional (...) extinction shows respect to that species and its ecological relationships. Hopeful, wise, coordinated action is needed to save ecosystems. (shrink)
Compiled by an archaeologist and philosopher of science, Science at the Frontiers: Perspectives on the History and Philosophy of Science supplements current literature in the history and philosophy of science with essays approaching the traditional problems of the field from new perspectives and highlighting disciplines usually overlooked by the canon. William H. Krieger brings together scientists from a number of disciplines to answer these questions and more in a volume appropriate for both students and academics in the field.
Effective solutions to global warming will likely require coordinated national and international policies. But in the short term, individuals might choose to take actions or not take actions which will reduce their own contribution to global warming. Philosophers have argued that individual action to curb climate emissions is not morally inconsequential. A strong case can be made for individual causal responsibility for the production of the moral harms which would result from climate change. However, the nature of human moral psychology (...) is such that we can expect a lack of moral motivation to assume responsibility at the crucial moment of action. That is, moral agents face “the problem of failed intentions.” This paper assesses the moral value of specific techniques and technologies which promise to increase the ability of moral agents to fulfill their moral intentions. For instance, since individuals typically evaluate others’ actions as less moral than their own, social norming techniques which provide objective information about how one’s climate emissions compare to others can be an effective means of supporting moral action. (shrink)
The Computational History of Philosophy of Science Dataset aims to be a comprehensive set of article and book chapter metadata for philosophy of science. The dataset covers the full run of over 40 journals and 3 major book series in the field. An automated author disambiguation script is used to construct canonical names for each author, and a combination of gender attribution methods is used to attribute the gender of each author. The full code used to generate the dataset is (...) available at [URL not allowed]. See the file data_dictionary.txt for data dictionary and additional information. (shrink)
A commentary on Ronald Sandler, 2013, "Climate change and Ecosystem Management." Rapid ecological change requires rethinking land management goals and strategies. We propose extending Sandler’s view. First, it is a false dichotomy to assume that a definitive choice must be made between reserve oriented and restoration approaches. Second, even more emphasis can be placed on the value of diversity in management approaches.