Ambitiously identifying fresh issues in the study of complex systems, Peter J. Taylor, in a model of interdisciplinary exploration, makes these concerns accessible to scholars in the fields of ecology, environmental science, and science studies. Unruly Complexity explores concepts used to deal with complexity in three realms: ecology and socio-environmental change; the collective constitution of knowledge; and the interpretations of science as they influence subsequent research. For each realm Taylor shows that unruly complexity-situations that lack definite boundaries, where what goes (...) on "outside" continually restructures what is "inside," and where diverse processes come together to produce change-should not be suppressed by partitioning complexity into well-bounded systems that can be studied or managed from an outside vantage point. Using case studies from Australia, North America, and Africa, he encourages readers to be troubled by conventional boundaries-especially between science and the interpretation of science-and to reflect more self-consciously on the conceptual and practical choices researchers make. (shrink)
The point Sesardic (Biol Philos 25: 143–162, 2010) makes about the possibility of distinguishing groups for which there is a lot of within-group variation is not sufficient to rehabilitate a biological concept of race. In this note, I sketch a number of issues that quickly arise once we delve more deeply into the relevant scientific knowledge, concepts, methods, and questions for inquiry.
Many psychometricians and behavioral geneticists believe that high heritability of IQ test scores within racial groups coupled with environmental hypotheses failing to account for the differences between the mean scores for groups lends plausibility to explanations of mean differences in terms of genetic factors. I show that heritability estimates and the statistical analysis of variance on which they are based have limited relevance in exposing genetic and environmental factors operating within any single group or population. I begin with agricultural investigations, (...) where replication of genetic types and control over environmental factors are possible, and highlight the difficulties of moving from AOV of observed traits to investigation of measurable genetic factors. The difficulties can only be exacerbated for human data sets, which are equivalent to a crop trial in which each variety is replicated in only one or two of the locations. (shrink)
Many psychometricians and behavioral geneticists believe that high heritability of IQ test scores within racial groups coupled with environmental hypotheses failing to account for the differences between the mean scores for groups lends plausibility to explanations of mean differences in terms of genetic factors. This two-component argument cannot be sustained when viewed in the light of the conceptual and methodological themes introduced in Taylor . These themes concern the difficulties of moving from the statistical analysis of variance of observed traits (...) to investigation of measurable genetic factors and measurable environmental factors. One such theme is that quantities estimated by an AOV of observed traits cannot be equated with measurable genetic or environmental factors involved in the development of those traits. Once this distinction is clear, the argument that environmental factors have failed to explain the differences lacks weight because it does not consider whether genetic factors have been more successful. This article exposes additional flaws in the lines of thinking associated with the two-component argument, with the distinction between passive, reactive, and active associations between genetic and environmental factors, and with the reciprocal causation models Dickens and Flynn propose in order to reconcile high estimates of heritability and large IQ test score gains between generations. Human heritability estimates are irrelevant in developing explanations of differences across groups or across generations. My critique is directed at opening up more conceptual space for deriving empirically validated models of developmental pathways whose components are heterogeneous and differ among individuals at any one time and over generations. (shrink)
Diagrams refer to the phenomena overtly represented, to analogous phenomena, and to previous pictures and their graphic conventions. The diagrams of ecologists Clarke, Hutchinson, and H.T. Odum reveal their search for physical analogies, building on the success of World War II science and the promise of cybernetics. H.T. Odum's energy circuit diagrams reveal also his aspirations for a universal and natural means of reducing complexity to guide the management of diverse ecological and social systems. Graphic conventions concerning framing and translation (...) of ecological processes onto the flat printed page facilitate Odum's ability to act as if ecological relations were decomposable into systems and could be managed by analysts external to the system. (shrink)
Quantitative genetics (QG) analyses variation in traits of humans, other animals, or plants in ways that take account of the genealogical relatedness of the individuals whose traits are observed. “Classical” QG, where the analysis of variation does not involve data on measurable genetic or environmental entities or factors, is reformulated in this article using models that are free of hypothetical, idealized versions of such factors, while still allowing for defined degrees of relatedness among kinds of individuals or “varieties.” The gene (...) - free formulation encompasses situations encountered in human QG as well as in agricultural QG. This formulation is used to describe three standard assumptions involved in classical QG and provide plausible alternatives. Several concerns about the partitioning of trait variation into components and its interpretation, most of which have a long history of debate, are discussed in light of the gene-free formulation and alternative assumptions. That discussion is at a theoretical level, not dependent on empirical data in any particular situation. Additional lines of work to put the gene-free formulation and alternative assumptions into practice and to assess their empirical consequences are noted, but lie beyond the scope of this article. The three standard QG assumptions examined are: (1) partitioning of trait variation into components requires models of hypothetical, idealized genes with simple Mendelian inheritance and direct contributions to the trait; (2) all other things being equal, similarity in traits for relatives is proportional to the fraction shared by the relatives of all the genes that vary in the population (e.g., fraternal or dizygotic twins share half of the variable genes that identical or monozygotic twins share); (3) in analyses of human data, genotype-environment interaction variance (in the classical QG sense) can be discounted. The concerns about the partitioning of trait variation discussed include: the distinction between traits and underlying measurable factors; the possible heterogeneity in factors underlying the development of a trait; the kinds of data needed to estimate key empirical parameters; and interpretations based on contributions of hypothetical genes; as well as, in human studies, the labeling of residual variance as a non-shared environmental effect; and the importance of estimating interaction variance. (shrink)
This essay extends Levins'' 1966 analysis of modelbuilding in ecology and evolutionary biology. Amodel, as the product of modeling, might bevalued according to its correspondence to reality. Yet Levins'' emphasis on provisionality and changeredirects attention to the processes ofmodeling, through which scientists select and generatetheir problems, define their categories, collect theirdata, compare competing models, and present theirfindings. I identify several points where decisionsare required that are not determined by nature. Thisinvites examination of the social considerationsmodelers are reacting to at the (...) sites of sociality.Modelers must weave socio-ecological webs so thatthe models can be seen to represent their subjectmatter at the same time as the modelers secure thesupport of colleagues, collaborators and institutions,and enjoin others to act upon their conclusions. Notonly do theory justification and theory generationmerge, but the joint project becomes simultaneouslyphilosophical and sociological. (shrink)
Ecology has had a lower profile in Biology & Philosophy than one might expect on the basis of the attention ecology is given in public discussions in relation to environmental issues. Our tentative explanation is that ecology appears theoretically redundant within biology and, consequently, philosophically challenging problemsrelated to biology are commonly supposed to be somewhere else, particularly in the molecular sphere. Richard Levins has recognized the genuine challenges posed by ecology for theoretical and philosophical thinking in biology. This essay sets (...) the stage for appreciating his work; it was preceded by four articles published in Biology & Philosophy 15(2),and is followed by a personal reminiscent. (shrink)
Despite a long history of debates about the heritability of human traits by researchers and other critical commentators, the possible heterogeneity of genetic and environmental factors that underlie patterns in observed traits has not been recognized as a significant conceptual and methodological issue. This article is structured to stimulate a wide range of readers to pursue diverse implications of underlying heterogeneity and of its absence from previous debates. Section 1, a condensed critique of previous conceptualizations and interpretations of heritability studies, (...) consists of three core propositions centered on heterogeneity and six supplementary propositions. Reference is made to agricultural evaluation trials in which a number of different genetically replicable varieties are raised in multiple replicates in one or more locations. In such analyses, the best case for illuminating genetic and environmental factors can be achieved; analyses in human genetics, in contrast, fall far short of the ideal. Section 2 identifies a wide range of questions that invite philosophical, historical, sociological, and scientific inquiry. These are organized under four headings: debate over the conceptual implications of heterogeneity; history of translation of methods from agriculture and laboratory breeding into human genetic analysis; racialized imaginaries in the analysis of differences among groups; and areas of scientific inquiry that may allow more attention to underlying heterogeneity. (shrink)
Using data on the ‘career’ paths of one thousand ‘leading scientists’ from 1450 to 1900, what is conventionally called the ‘rise of modern science’ is mapped as a changing geography of scientific practice in urban networks. Four distinctive networks of scientific practice are identified. A primate network centred on Padua and central and northern Italy in the sixteenth century expands across the Alps to become a polycentric network in the seventeenth century, which in turn dissipates into a weak polycentric network (...) in the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century marks a huge change of scale as a primate network centred on Berlin and dominated by German-speaking universities. These geographies are interpreted as core-producing processes in Wallerstein’s modern world-system; the rise of modern scientific practice is central to the development of structures of knowledge that relate to, but do not mirror, material changes in the system. (shrink)
Estimates of a trait’s heritability can be used to predict the advance through selective breeding in agriculture and the laboratory where researchers can replicate varieties and locations. These conditions do not apply to human populations, yet considerable attention is still given to high heritability and to small effects of family members growing up together relative to differences within families. This article shows that the conventional partitioning of a trait’s variation produces components that cannot be associated reliably with average differences among (...) varieties and locations , let alone underwrite hypotheses about measurable genetic and environmental influences. (shrink)
This article examines eight “gaps” in order to clarify why the quantitative genetics methods of partitioning variation of a trait into heritability and other components has very limited power to show anything clear and useful about genetic and environmental influences, especially for human behaviors and other traits. The first two gaps should be kept open; the others should be bridged or the difficulty of doing so should be acknowledged: 1. Key terms have multiple meanings that are distinct; 2. Statistical patterns (...) are distinct from measurable underlying factors; 3. Translation from statistical analyses to hypotheses about measurable factors is difficult; 4. Predictions based on extrapolations from existing patterns of variation may not match outcomes; 5. The partitioning of variation in human studies does not reliably estimate the intended quantities; 6. Translation from statistical analyses to hypotheses about the measurable factors is even more difficult in light of the possible heterogeneity of underlying genetic or environmental factors; 7. Many steps lie between the analysis of observed traits and interventions based on well-founded claims about the causal influence of genetic or environmental factors; 8. Explanation of variation within groups does not translate to explanation of differences among groups. At the start, I engage readers’ attention with three puzzles that have not been resolved by past debates. The puzzles concern generational increases in IQ test scores, the possibility of underlying heterogeneity, and the translation of methods from selective breeding into human genetics. After discussing the gaps, I present each puzzle in a new light and point to several new puzzles that invite attention from analysts of variation in quantitative genetics and in social science more generally. The article’s critical perspectives on agricultural, laboratory, and human heritability studies are intended to elicit further contributions from readers across the fields of history, philosophy, sociology, and politics of biology and in the sciences. (shrink)
Despite the long history of scientific, philosophical, and political debate around heritability studies, certain fundamental conceptual issues have not been recognized or well appreciated. The starting point is that heritability does not measure the degree of influence that genes have on a trait or provide a reliable basis for choosing which traits to investigate further with molecular genetic research. The short argument on this point revolves around two issues: the disconnect between analyzing measurements of a trait and exposing the measurable (...) genetic and environmental factors underlying the trait’s development; and the possibility of heterogeneity in these underlying factors, that is, different factors may lead to the same trait value. The idea of underlying heterogeneity is elaborated through schematic diagrams and distinguished from other senses of heterogeneity. Five conceptually distinct approaches for addressing underlying heterogeneity are identified, corresponding to distinct ways of managing the reciprocal relationship between the degree of knowledge of the dynamics through which the trait develops and the actions that can be reliably be based on what is known . This framework, which extends the interventionist notion of causality, allows the scope and limitations of heritability studies to be clarified in greater detail. It can also inform critical appreciation of newer methods of analysis of genetic and environmental factors. The issues discussed in this article do not centre on empirical data or technical detail and should be accessible to non-specialists as well as challenging active researchers. (shrink)
A key challenge in conceptualizing ecological complexity is to allow simultaneously for particularity, contingency, and structure, and for such structure to be internally differentiated,dynamically tied to its context, and subject torestructuring. Because all organisms live insuch dynamic ecological circumstances, philosophy of ecology could become the leading site for addressing difficult conceptual questions concerning the situatedness or positionality of organisms –humans included – in their changing and intersecting worlds.
Ecologists grapple with complex, changing situations. Historians, sociologists and philosophers studying the construction of science likewise attempt to account for (or discount) a wide variety of influences making up the scientists' "ecologies of knowledge." This paper introduces a graphic methodology, mapping, designed to assist researchers at both levels-in science and in science studies-to work with the complexity of their material. By analyzing the implications and limitations of mapping, I aim to contribute to an ecological approach to the philosophy of science.
Development scholars and practitioners are promoting food security, food sovereignty, and the localization of food systems to prepare for the projected negative impacts of climate change. The implementation of biodiverse homegardens is often seen as a way not only to localize food production but also as a strategy in alignment with a food sovereignty agenda. While much scholarship has characterized and critiqued food security and sovereignty conceptualizations, relatively little research has examined people’s lived experiences in order to test how such (...) theoretical visions play out on the ground in farming communities. Based on a case study of four coffee cooperatives in northern Nicaragua, we examine a non-governmental organization -supported project promoting food security and sovereignty through development of homegardens. We ask: To what extent are homegardens an effective strategy to reach food sovereignty? And, why may farmers be resistant to changing their food production and consumption strategies to embrace biodiverse homegardens when they improve food security? We discuss characteristics of agroecological homegardens, the distinctions between food security, food sovereignty and dominant discourses of development, the history of food sovereignty in Nicaragua, and farmer perspectives on homegarden implementation. Despite historic critiques, NGOs are poised to facilitate the transformation of food and agricultural development by employing counter development strategies, a necessary step if homegardens are to be successful in the long term. To conclude, we propose some strategies NGOs and communities might pursue to move forward with homegardens as a food sovereignty strategy. This research suggests that a food sovereignty approach still rooted in mainstream development models faces significant obstacles to moving beyond food security and into a farmer-led food sovereignty agenda. (shrink)
This paper provides a rationale for the inclusion of biotechnology courses in the secondary science curriculum. In years to come our students will need to make important political, moral and social decisions about their future and the future of others. If our students are to become informed decision makers they need to understand the theory, practice and ethical ramifications of biotechnology. Important topics related to biotechnology include euthanasia, human organ and tissue transplantation, reproductive technology, cloning, and the production and use (...) of genetically modified organisms. Science teachers have an obligation to help their students develop an understanding of these issues.Data is presented from two science teachers, Catherine and Mark, each of whom taught innovative Year 10 Biotechnology courses . The effectiveness of the courses in enabling students to better identify and resolve ethical issues is discussed. (shrink)
This collection of essays is a genuinely interdisciplinary exploration of the changing relationship of pedagogy, technology, and human beings in contemporary educational and cultural settings. The authors draw upon the most recent theoretical developments in education, the arts, the human body, and technology to interrogate changing pedagogical practices both inside and beyond educational institutions. Their focus on new forms of cultural exchange constitutes a radical re-thinking of the nature of pedagogical events beyond the boundaries of the traditional educational disciplines.
There is growing evidence that some individuals engage in both self-harm and aggression during the course of their lifetime. The co-occurrence of self-harm and aggression is termed dual-harm. Individuals who engage in dual-harm may represent a high-risk group with unique characteristics and pattern of harmful behaviours. Nevertheless, there is an absence of clinical guidelines for the treatment and prevention of dual-harm and a lack of agreed theoretical framework that accounts for why people may engage in this behaviour. The present work (...) aimed to address this gap in the literature by providing a narrative review of previous research of self-harm, aggression and dual-harm, and through doing so, presenting an evidence-based theory of dual-harm – the cognitive-emotional model of dual-harm. This model draws from previous studies and theories, including the General Aggression Model, diathesis-stress models and emotional dysregulation theories. The cognitive-emotional model highlights the potential distal, proximal and feedback processes of dual-harm, the role of personality style and the possible emotional regulation and interpersonal functions of this behaviour. In line with our theory, various clinical and research implications for dual-harm are suggested, including hypotheses to be tested by future studies. (shrink)
Noting minimal philosophical attention to the shift of the meanings of “genotype” and “phenotype,” and their distinction, as well as to the variety of meanings that have co-existed over the last hundred years, this note invites readers to join in exploring the implications of shifts that have been left unexamined.
This article describes contrasting ideas for a set of topics in epidemiological thinking. The premise underlying this contribution to the special edition is that researchers develop their epidemiological thinking over time through interactions with other researchers who have a variety of in-practice commitments, such as to kinds of cases and methods of analysis, and not simply to a philosophical framework for explanation. I encourage discussants from philosophy and epidemiology to draw purposefully from across a range of topics and contrasting positions, (...) and thereby pursue critical thinking in the sense of understanding ideas and practices better when we examine them in relation to alternatives. After an initial topic concerning practices for developing epidemiological literacy, a number of conceptual steps follow—the characterization of the very phenomena we might be concerned with, the scope and challenges of the field of epidemiology, the formulation of categories—before linking associations, predictions, causes and interventions and examining the confounding of purported links. Building on that conceptual basis, the remaining topics consist of issues or angles of analysis related to the complexities of inequalities within and between populations, context, and changes over the life course. The organization of topics derives from a graduate course that I teach that aims for epidemiological literacy, not technical ability in statistical formulas and data analysis, and shares the underlying premise and critical thinking goals of this article. During the topic-by-topic description, some assertions about explanation and intervention emerge, notably, that epidemiological–philosophical discussion about causality often leaves unclear or unexamined whether a modifiable factor shown to have been associated with a difference in the data from past observations should be thought of as factor that, when modified, would generate that difference going forward. The article concludes with a “Limitations of this Study” section that teases out different kinds of description–prescription relationship that are implied in undertaking philosophy of epidemiology and identifies some other considerations that are implied but not emphasized by this article. (shrink)
The social time and space constructs of Manual Castells, Fernand Braudel Immanuel Wallerstein and Jane Jacobs are brought together to provide a set of conceptual tools for understanding contemporary globalization. Three successive globalizations are identified and named for their constellations of power: imperial globalization, American globalization, and corporate globalization. These are treated as unique historical products of modern, rampant urbanizations; each globalization is described as an era of great cities with distinctive worldwide networks. Focusing on urban demand, it is suggested (...) that current corporate globalization might elide into a planetary globalization covering both social and environment relations. (shrink)
The concept of spatiality is introduced as an analytical tool for studying the modern world-system. The spatialities of cities and states are contrasted as spaces of flows and spaces of places respectively. It is argued that the latter is embedded in the social sciences as an unexamined spatiality. Dis-embedding is achieved through constructing a revisionist world-systems analysis that focuses on cities. This world-systems analysis is then used to describe two world-spatialities, for the current situation and for a generation hence. The (...) conclusion identifies a systemic bifurcation as an anarchist moment. (shrink)
The Forestry Pilot Plan set intomotion collectively-owned and managed forestry in overforty communities in Quintana Roo, Mexico and hasshown the promise of a forestry development model thatpromotes conservation by giving local people a genuinestake in sustainable resource management. Today, thelegacy of the PPF is under great pressure. Externally,neoliberal policy reform restructures agrarianproduction in ways that favor individual overcollective management of natural resources.Internally, organizational problems createinefficiencies within both forestry ejidos(cooperative agrarian communities) and theirintermediate level forestry civil societies. Peasants'capacity to defend their (...) interests and dealeffectively with their production problems throughstrong representative organizations is beingundermined by new rules for economic associationwithin the ejidos and by the turning over of technicalservice financing to the market. Though organizationalinnovations within the ejidos hold positive potential,existing civil societies merit continued assistance askey actors promoting sustainable forestry. Studyingcommon property management regimes across multiplelevels and dimensions reveals that in Mexico, policyreform overlooks the crucial social resourcesrepresented by peasant organization, undermining thepossibility of sustainable forest management whileassigning the peasant most of the cost ofconservation. If conservation is indeed encouraged bythe genuine participation of those with a stake insustainable use of natural resources, national andinternational communities that value Mexico's tropicalforests should also invest in both social and economiccosts of conservation. (shrink)