The latest issue of Philosophical Topics is out. Each issue is devoted to a different theme. This issue’s theme is “philosophy of ecology”, and I am super-chuffed to have a paper in it. It means I am now officially a philosopher! If you publish a paper in a philosophy journal, that makes you a philosopher, right?*
My contribution is a greatly expanded version of this old blog post. I leave it to you to decide if several thousand additional words improved the post or not. That’s now three papers on my cv that started out as blog posts.
Here is where I’d like to put a blurb about the other papers in the issue, but I haven’t read them yet. All the authors worked independently of one another, so I’m as curious as you are to see what the other authors had to say. Besides me, the other contributors are a mixture of ecologists and philosophers of science: Gregory Cooper, Eric Dejardain, Christopher Eliot, Alkistis Elliott-Graves, James Justus, Christopher Lean , Diane Pataki, Carolyn Trombley, Karl Cottenie, Stefan Linquist, Jay Odenbaugh, and Mark Vellend. The topics covered include everything from the future of predictive ecology, to the scientific costs of ambiguous terminology, to the structure of ecological research programs, to the “superfluous niche”, and more.
You should totally check it out. If your institution doesn’t subscribe, preprints of some of the papers are on the Phil Sci archive. And the issue will be on JSTOR in the not too distant future.
Thanks very much to issue editors Jay Odenbaugh and Stefan Linquist for the invitation to contribute.
*First commenter to make the obvious philosophical joke about “what is a ‘philosopher’, really?” gets -10 Internet Points.
Anyone interested can find my paper here:
Click to access Vellend_2019_PhilTopics.pdf
TITLE: The Behavioral Economics of Biodiversity Conservation Scientists
ABSTRACT. Values have a profound influence on the behaviour of all people, scientists included. Biodiversity is studied by ecologists, like myself, most of whom align with the “mission-driven” field of conservation biology. The mission involves the protection of biodiversity, and a set of contextual values including the beliefs that biological diversity and ecological complexity are good and have intrinsic value. This raises concerns that the scientific process might be influenced by biases toward outcomes that are aligned with these values. Retrospectively, I have identified such biases in my own work, resulting from an implicit assumption that organisms that are not dependent on natural habitats (e.g., forests) effectively do not count in biodiversity surveys. Finding that anthropogenic forest disturbance reduces the diversity of plant species dependent on shady forests can thus be falsely equated with more general biodiversity loss. Disturbance might actually increase overall plant diversity (i.e., including all of the species found growing in a particular place). In this paper I ask whether ecologists share values that are unrepresentative of broader society, I discuss examples of potential value-driven biases in biodiversity science, and I present some hypotheses from behavioral economics on possible psychological underpinnings of shared values and preferences among ecologists.
Look forward to reading the authors’ takes on philosophy of ecology, about which I also have strong opinions.
This appears to be a very interesting series of papers dealing with several thinking cornerstones of scientists practising ecology. I did not find any pre-prints in the archive. I wonder if free access may be granted for the entire issue.
The organizers have to upload the preprints to the PhilSci archive. Give them time, they’re busy just like everyone else.
“I leave it to you to decide if several thousand additional words improved the post or not. That’s now three papers on my cv that started out as blog posts.”
Jeremy, since you’re a philosopher now, I’m curious to hear your musing on whether you think three papers from this blog is few or a lot?
Personally, I think you should be commended for not having more. There must be temptation to turn many of your posts into Comments or Opinion submissions to journals that publish such pieces. While this strategy would probably have boosted your cv and h-index, I don’t think it would’ve stimulated as much lively discussion as your blog does (not to mention to time-drain on reviewers).
“Jeremy, since you’re a philosopher now, I’m curious to hear your musing on whether you think three papers from this blog is few or a lot?”
Hmm. It’s more than just about any other ecologist has, since most ecologists don’t blog! But I know several other longtime ecology bloggers who have one or two. The interesting thing, I think, is not that I’ve gotten any papers out of blogging, but that I don’t think blogging has *cost* me any papers by taking up time I could’ve been spending writing papers.
“Personally, I think you should be commended for not having more. There must be temptation to turn many of your posts into Comments or Opinion submissions to journals that publish such pieces. ”
Nah. Thanks for the kind words, but don’t give me any credit for resisting any incentives that aren’t actually there. I don’t feel like I have the time to turn a bunch of blog posts into opinion papers, and I doubt it’d be worth the effort. Doubt it would appreciably increase my influence on the field, beyond whatever influence this blog has. And my cv is just fine as it is. If I were to go to the trouble of turning a bunch of blog posts into opinion papers, I wouldn’t see any concrete personal benefits in terms of raises, unsolicited job offers, more grant money, more seminar invitations, or whatever.
Pingback: Subtle biases with important consequences | Dynamic Ecology