• Book Review (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A. forthcoming.
  •  10
    Forty Years after Laboratory Life
    Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 12. 2020.
    There is an ongoing and robust tradition of science and technology studies scholars conducting ethnographic laboratory studies. These laboratory studies—like all ethnographies—are each conducted at a particular time, are situated in a particular place, and are about a particular culture. Presumably, this contextual specificity means that such ethnographies have limited applicability beyond the narrow slice of time, place, and culture that they each subject to examination. But we do not always or…Read more
  •  48
    Complexity begets crosscutting, dooms hierarchy
    Synthese 198 (8): 7665-7696. 2021.
    There is a perennial philosophical dream of a certain natural order for the natural kinds. The name of this dream is ‘the hierarchy requirement’. According to this postulate, proper natural kinds form a taxonomy which is both unique and traditional. Here I demonstrate that complex scientific objects exist: objects which generate different systems of scientific classification, produce myriad legitimate alternatives amongst the nonetheless still natural kinds, and make the hierarchical dream impos…Read more
  •  48
    Scientists have been arguing for more than 25 years about whether it is a good idea to collect voucher specimens from particularly vulnerable biological populations. Some think that, obviously, scientists should not be harvesting organisms from, for instance, critically endangered species. Others think that, obviously, it is the special job of scientists to collect precisely such information before any chance of retrieving it is forever lost. The character, extent, longevity, and span of the ong…Read more
  •  21
    Metaphorical Ripples
    Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 11. 2019.
    The overarching argument of Currie’s Rock, Bone, and Ruin is that we should be optimistic rather than pessimistic about what the historical sciences can tell us, even about the deep past. To adopt either of these two positions is to take a stance on how the historical sciences tend to perform—on whether they tend to do well, or poorly, when it comes to informing us about the past.
  •  364
    Problems for Natural Selection as a Mechanism
    Philosophy of Science 78 (3): 512-523. 2011.
    Skipper and Millstein analyze natural selection and mechanism, concluding that natural selection is not a mechanism in the sense of the new mechanistic philosophy. Barros disagrees and provides his own account of natural selection as a mechanism. This discussion identifies a missing piece of Barros's account, attempts to fill in that piece, and reconsiders the revised account. Two principal objections are developed: one, the account does not characterize natural selection; two, the account is no…Read more
  •  108
    The Disconnect Problem, Scientific Authority, and Climate Policy
    Perspectives on Science 25 (1): 67-94. 2017.
    The disconnect problem arises wherever there is ongoing and severe discordance between the scientific assessment of a politically relevant issue, and the politics and legislation of said issue. Here, we focus on the disconnect problem as it arises in the case of climate change, diagnosing a failure to respect the necessary tradeoff between authority and autonomy within a public institution like science. After assessing the problematic deployment of scientific authority in this arena, we offer su…Read more
  •  1324
    Human reproductive cloning: A conflict of liberties
    Bioethics 24 (2): 71-77. 2010.
    Proponents of human reproductive cloning do not dispute that cloning may lead to violations of clones' right to self-determination, or that these violations could cause psychological harms. But they proceed with their endorsement of human reproductive cloning by dismissing these psychological harms, mainly in two ways. The first tactic is to point out that to commit the genetic fallacy is indeed a mistake; the second is to invoke Parfit's non-identity problem. The argument of this paper is that …Read more
  •  130
    Messy Chemical Kinds
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3): 719-743. 2018.
    Following Kripke and Putnam, the received view of chemical kinds has been a microstructuralist one. To be a microstructuralist about chemical kinds is to think that membership in said kinds is conferred by microstructural properties. Recently, the received microstructuralist view has been elaborated and defended, but it has also been attacked on the basis of complexities, both chemical and ontological. Here, I look at which complexities really challenge the microstructuralist view; at how the vi…Read more