• Building Trust, Removing Doubt? Robustness Analysis and Climate Modeling
    In Elisabeth A. Lloyd & Eric Winsberg (eds.), Climate Modelling: Philosophical and Conceptual Issues, Springer Verlag. pp. 297-321. 2018.
    In this chapter, Odenbaugh first provides a conceptual framework for thinking about climate modeling, specifically focused on general circulation models. Second, he considers what makes models independent of one another. Third, he shows robustness analysis, which depends on models being independent of one another, can be used to remove doubts about idealizations in general climate models. Finally, he considers a dilemma for robustness analysis; namely, it leads to either an infinite regress of i…Read more
  •  2
    Biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and the environmentalist agenda
    Biology and Philosophy 35 (1): 1-11. 2020.
    Jonathan Newman, Gary Varner, and Stefan Linquist’s Defending Biodiversity: Environmental Science and Ethics is a critical examination of a panoply of arguments for conserving biodiversity. Their discussion is extremely impressive though I think one can push back on some of their criticisms. In this essay, I consider their criticisms of the argument for conserving biodiversity based on ecosystem services; specifically, ecosystem functioning. In the end, I try to clarify and defend this argument …Read more
  •  109
    Functional diversity: An epistemic roadmap
    with Christophe Malaterre, Antoine C. Dussault, Sophia Rousseau-Mermans, Gillian Barker, Beatrix E. Beisner, Frédéric Bouchard, Eric Desjardins, Tanya I. Handa, Steven W. Kembel, Geneviève Lajoie, Virginie Maris, Alison D. Munson, Timothée Poisot, B. Jesse Shapiro, and Curtis A. Suttle
    BioScience 10 (69): 800-811. 2019.
    Functional diversity holds the promise of understanding ecosystems in ways unattainable by taxonomic diversity studies. Underlying this promise is the intuition that investigating the diversity of what organisms actually do—i.e. their functional traits—within ecosystems will generate more reliable insights into the ways these ecosystems behave, compared to considering only species diversity. But this promise also rests on several conceptual and methodological—i.e. epistemic—assumptions that cut …Read more
  • Ecological Models
    Cambridge University Press. 2019.
    In this book, we consider three questions. What are ecological models? How are they tested? How do ecological models inform environmental policy and politics? Through several case studies, we see how these representations which idealize and abstract can be used to explain and predict complicated ecological systems. Additionally, we see how they bear on environmental policy and politics.
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    Rethinking Wilderness
    Environmental Ethics 39 (4): 459-460. 2017.
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    Engineering Model Independence
    with Zachary Pirtle, Andrew Hamilton, and Zoe Szajnfarber
    Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 22 (2): 191-229. 2018.
    According to population biologist Richard Levins, every discipline has a “strategy of model building,” which involves implicit assumptions about epistemic goals and the types of abstractions and modeling approaches used. We will offer suggestions about how to model complex systems based upon a strategy focusing on independence in modeling. While there are many possible and desirable modeling strategies, we will contrast a model-independence-focused strategy with the more common modeling strategy…Read more
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    Engineering Model Independence in advance
    with Zachary Pirtle, Andrew Hamilton, and Zoe Szajnfarber
    Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology. forthcoming.
  •  16
    Models, models, models: a deflationary view
    Synthese 1-16. forthcoming.
    In this essay, I first consider a popular view of models and modeling, the similarity view. Second, I contend that arguments for it fail and it suffers from what I call “Hughes’ worry.” Third, I offer a deflationary approach to models and modeling that avoids Hughes’ worry and shows how scientific representations are of apiece with other types of representations. Finally, I consider an objection that the similarity view can deal with approximations better than the deflationary view and show that…Read more
  •  18
    Dr. Jay Odenbaugh discusses different types of climate skepticism and the evidence for anthropogenic climate change along with some common arguments against it. He considers the role of consensus and dissent in science and recent discussion of the book Merchants of Doubt and Climategate.
  •  7
    Dr. Jay Odenbaugh discusses psychological issues concerning American opinion on the topic of climate control, the relevance or irrelevance of scientific literacy to climate skepticism, and the role of affect and cognitive biases in environmental decision-making. He considers climate communication and how we might most effectively motivate pro-environmental behavior and beliefs. The discussion ends with a case study for persuading individuals on both sides of the political aisle for taking global…Read more
  •  71
    Becoming Human by Jennifer Greenwood is one of the most thought-provoking books on emotion and its expression I have read. At its core, it attempts to provide an account of the development of full human emotionality and in so doing argues the emotions are “transcranial.” Emotions are radically realized outside our nervous systems and beyond our skin. As children, we are functionally integrated affectively with our mothers; so much so that in a sense our emotions are not ours alone. Regardless of…Read more
  • Ecological populations and communities are highly complex systems and our ability to understand these systems are limited. Thus, the mathematical models used to represent these systems are often highly idealized. In this dissertation. I examine in the context of theoretical ecology what mathematical models are, how these models are evaluated, and how models can explain the dynamics of these systems given their complexity and the idealizations introduced. ;In the first section, I argue that the s…Read more
  •  1351
    Message in the Bottle: The Constraints of Experimentation on Model Building
    Philosophy of Science 73 (5): 720-729. 2006.
    Some ecologists have argued that theoretical model building in population and community ecology has gone evidentially unconstrained. In the essay, I argue that "bottle experiments" offer ecological model building evidential constraints and illustrate this by considering work on chaotic models tested by the dynamics of flour beetles. Critics reply that these experiments are importantly unlike nonmanipulated natural systems and thus do not constitute genuine tests of the models. I conclude by cons…Read more
  •  1212
    A field guide to the philosophy of ecology
    with Mark Colyvan, William Grey, and Stefan Linquist
    Philosophical interest in ecology is relatively new. Standard texts in the philosophy of biology pay little or no attention to ecology (though Sterelny and Griffiths 1999 is an exception). This is in part because the science of ecology itself is relatively new, but whatever the reasons for the neglect in the past, the situation must change. A good philosophical understanding of ecology is important for a number of reasons. First, ecology is an important and fascinating branch of biology with dis…Read more
  •  871
    The strategy of “the strategy of model building in population biology”
    Biology and Philosophy 21 (5): 607-621. 2006.
    In this essay, I argue for four related claims. First, Richard Levins’ classic “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology” was a statement and defense of theoretical population biology growing out of collaborations between Robert MacArthur, Richard Lewontin, E. O. Wilson, and others. Second, I argue that the essay served as a response to the rise of systems ecology especially as pioneered by Kenneth Watt. Third, the arguments offered by Levins against systems ecology and in favor of h…Read more
  •  1439
    Abstract. In this essay I first provide an analysis of various community concepts. Second, I evaluate the two of the most serious challenges to the existence of communities – gradient and paleoecological analysis respectively – arguing that properly understood neither threatens the existence of communities construed interactively. Finally, I apply the same interactive approach to ecosystem ecology arguing that ecosystems may exist robustly as well.
  • Pessimism about Ecosystem Ecology: A Reply to Sagoff
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
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    In this essay, I begin with an overview of a traditional account of natural kinds, and then consider David Hull's critique of species as natural kinds and the associated notion of human nature. Second, I explore recent "liberal" accounts of human nature provided by Edouard Machery and Grant Ramsey and criticized by Tim Lewens. They attempt to avoid the criticisms of- fered by Hull. After examining those views, I turn to Richard Boyd's Homeostatic Property Cluster account of natural kinds which i…Read more
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    Sahotra Sarkar’s Biodiversity and Environmental Philosophy is a welcome addition to the fields of environmental philosophy and the philosophy of science. First, his book has a rigorous and careful discussion of why we should preserve biodiversity. This is all the more important since much of environmental ethics has rested on normative claims which are unclear in meaning, appear unjustified at best and unjustifiable at worst, and are politically ineffective. Second, Sarkar is at home in the scie…Read more
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    Philosophers of the life sciences have devoted considerably more attention to evolutionary theory and genetics than to the various sub-disciplines of ecology, but recent work in the philosophy of ecology suggests reflects a growing interest in this area (Cooper 2003; Ginzburg and Colyvan 2004). However, philosophers of biology and ecology have focused almost entirely on conceptual and methodological issues in population and community ecology; conspicuously absent are foundational investigations …Read more
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    This American Life
    Ethics, Policy and Environment 14 (1): 27-29. 2011.
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    In this essay, I critically evaluate components of Michael Weisberg’s approach to models and modeling in his book Simulation and Similarity. First, I criticize his account of the ontology of models and mathematics. Second, I respond to his objections to fictionalism regarding models arguing that they fail. Third, I sketch a deflationary approach to models that retains many elements of his account but avoids the inflationary commitments
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    Models in biology
    Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2009.
    In recent years, there has much attention given by philosophers to the ubiquitous role of models and modeling in the biological sciences. Philosophical debates has focused on several areas of discussion. First, what are models in the biological sciences? The term ‘model’ is applied to mathematical structures, graphical displays, computer simulations, and even concrete organisms. Is there an account which unifies these disparate structures? Second, scientists routinely distinguish between theorie…Read more
  •  1179
    Ecology and the inescapability of values
    Science and Engineering Ethics 14 (4): 593-596. 2008.
    Science and Engineering Ethics, to appear.
  •  705
    Philosophical issues in ecology: Recent trends and future directions
    with Mark Colyvan, William Grey, Paul E. Griffiths, Stefan Linquist, and Hugh P. Possingham
    Ecology and Society 14 (2). 2009.
    Philosophy of ecology has been slow to become established as an area of philosophical interest, but it is now receiving considerable attention. This area holds great promise for the advancement of both ecology and the philosophy of science. Insights from the philosophy of science can advance ecology in a number of ways. For example, philosophy can assist with the development of improved models of ecological hypothesis testing and theory choice. Philosophy can also help ecologists understand the …Read more
  •  1411
    In 1974, John Maynard Smith wrote in his little book Models in Ecology, A theory of ecology must make statements about ecosystems as a whole, as well as about particular species at particular times, and it must make statements that are true for many species and not just for one… For the discovery of general ideas in ecology, therefore, different kinds of mathematical description, which may be called models, are called for. Whereas a good simulation should include as much detail as possible, a go…Read more
  •  107
    Seeing the forest and the trees: Realism about communities and ecosystems
    Philosophy of Science 74 (5): 628-641. 2007.
    In this essay I first provide an analysis of various community concepts. Second, I evaluate two of the most serious challenges to the existence of communities—gradient and paleoecological analysis respectively—arguing that, properly understood, neither threatens the existence of communities construed interactively. Finally, I apply the same interactive approach to ecosystem ecology, arguing that ecosystems may exist robustly as well. ‡I would like to thank to the participants at the Ecology and …Read more
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    Philosophy of biology
    with Matt Haber, Andrew Hamilton, and and Samir Okasha
    Philosophy of the Special Sciences, edited by Fritz Allhof, Blackwell Press.