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Samantha Wakil
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  1.  24
    The algorithmic turn in conservation biology: Characterizing progress in ethically-driven sciences.James Justus & Samantha Wakil - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 88 (C):181-192.
    As a discipline distinct from ecology, conservation biology emerged in the 1980s as a rigorous science focused on protecting biodiversity. Two algorithmic breakthroughs in information processing made this possible: place-prioritization algorithms and geographical information systems. They provided defensible, data-driven methods for designing reserves to conserve biodiversity that obviated the need for largely intuitive and highly problematic appeals to ecological theory at the time. But the scientific basis of these achievements and whether they constitute genuine scientific progress has been criticized. We (...)
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  2.  17
    The algorithmic turn in conservation biology: Characterizing progress in ethically-driven sciences.James Justus & Samantha Wakil - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 88 (C):181-192.
    As a discipline distinct from ecology, conservation biology emerged in the 1980s as a rigorous science focused on protecting biodiversity. Two algorithmic breakthroughs in information processing made this possible: place-prioritization algorithms and geographical information systems. They provided defensible, data-driven methods for designing reserves to conserve biodiversity that obviated the need for largely intuitive and highly problematic appeals to ecological theory at the time. But the scientific basis of these achievements and whether they constitute genuine scientific progress has been criticized. We (...)
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  3.  40
    Mathematical Explanation and the Biological Optimality Fallacy.Samantha Wakil & James Justus - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):916-930.
    Pure mathematics can play an indispensable role explaining empirical phenomena if recent accounts of insect evolution are correct. In particular, the prime life cycles of cicadas and the geometric structure of honeycombs are taken to undergird an inference to the best explanation about mathematical entities. Neither example supports this inference or the mathematical realism it is intended to establish. Both incorrectly assume that facts about mathematical optimality drove selection for the respective traits and explain why they exist. We show how (...)
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  4.  44
    Objectivity and orgasm: the perils of imprecise definitions.Samantha Wakil - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2315-2333.
    Lloyd analyzes every proposed evolutionary explanation of female orgasm and argues that all but one suffers from serious evidential errors. Lloyd attributes these errors to two main biases: androcentrism and adaptationism. This paper begins by arguing that the explanation Lloyd favors—the by-product account—is guilty of the androcentrism which supposedly implicates the other explanations of female orgasm with numerous evidential discrepancies. This suggests that there is another error afflicting orgasm research in addition to the biases Lloyd identities. I attempt to diagnose (...)
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  5.  15
    The ‘niche’ in niche-based theorizing: much ado about nothing.Samantha Wakil & James Justus - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (2):1-21.
    The niche is allegedly the conceptual bedrock underpinning the most prominent, and some would say most important, theorizing in ecology. We argue this point of view is more aspirational than veridical. Rather than critically dissect existing definitions of the concept, the supposedly significant work it is thought to have done in ecology is our evaluative target. There is no denying the impressive mathematical sophistication and theoretical ingenuity of the ecological modeling that invokes ‘niche’ terminology. But despite the pervasive labeling, we (...)
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  6.  23
    Experimental Explications for Conceptual Engineering.Samantha Wakil - 2021 - Erkenntnis:1-23.
    This paper argues for two conclusions: (1) evaluating the success of engineered concepts necessarily involves empirical work; and (2) the Carnapian Explication criterion precision ought to be a methodological standard in conceptual engineering. These two conclusions provide a new analysis of the race and gender debate between Sally Haslanger and Jennifer Saul. Specifically, the argument identifies the resources Haslanger needs to respond to Saul’s main objections. Lastly, I contrast the methodology advocated here with the so-called “method of cases” and draw (...)
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  7. Explications for Engineering.Samantha Wakil - 2020 - Dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    The conservative idea that it is a philosopher’s job to clarify common sense beliefs about ordinary concepts is being weeded out from the population and replaced by a revisionist agenda: philosophers should not merely describe but also analyze and suggest ways to improve our concepts. This project is called "conceptual engineering." The conceptual engineering literature is growing rapidly as more philosophers undertake normative conceptual work. However, many philosophers are practicing conceptual engineering untethered to an explicit methodology. Analyses addressing how we (...)
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  8. Experimental Explications for Conceptual Engineering.Samantha Wakil - 2023 - Erkenntnis 88 (4):1509-1531.
    This paper argues for two conclusions: (1) evaluating the success of engineered concepts necessarily involves empirical work; and (2) the Carnapian Explication criterion precision ought to be a methodological standard in conceptual engineering. These two conclusions provide a new analysis of the race and gender debate between Sally Haslanger and Jennifer Saul. Specifically, the argument identifies the resources Haslanger needs to respond to Saul’s main objections. Lastly, I contrast the methodology advocated here with the so-called “method of cases” and draw (...)
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