Peter Taylor

What follows are the abstracts or the introductions for many publications (by publication date, with most recent first) and then selected unpublished presentations and works in progress (again by date of presentation).
These can be viewed by following scrolling down or by selecting the item in the c.v.
* indicates primary author other than PJT; # indicates equal joint authorship/ editorship.
Last Update 11/06

"Heritability and heterogeneity: I. The limited relevance of heritability in investigation of genetic and environmental factors," Biological Theory, 1(2), 150-164, 2006. (Online appendices 1, 2, 3)
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 (AOV) 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.
The possible heterogeneity of factors is an important consideration here. In analyzing crop trials, the AOV is most useful for generating hypotheses about measurable factors when genetic varieties can be grouped so as to make it more plausible that the factors underlying the similar responses of varieties within a group are homogeneous. Even then, this does not imply that in other groups the same set of genetic factors are being modulated by the same set of environmental factors to produce the varieties' responses, or, by extension, the same set of factors produces the differences between the mean responses for groups. This article and its companion seek to open more conceptual space for the challenge of deriving empirically validated models of developmental pathways whose components are heterogeneous and differ among individuals at any one time and over generations.
"Heritability and heterogeneity: II. The irrelevance of heritability in explaining differences between means for different human groups or generations," to appear in Biological Theory, 1(4), 2006. ( Online appendix )
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 (2006). These themes concern the difficulties of moving from the statistical Analysis of Variance (AOV) of observed traits (often summarized in a heritability estimate) to investigation (through regression analysis and experiments) of measurable genetic factors (e.g., the presence or absence of specific alleles at one or more loci) and measurable environmental factors. One such theme is that quantities ("effects") 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.

Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, and Engagement, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005
Excerpt from the PROLOGUE

Simply put, this book explores concepts about complexity and change. To be more specific-although at this point very abstract-I am interested in situations that do not have clearly defined boundaries, coherent internal dynamics, or simply mediated relations with their external context. Such unruly complexity, as I call it, arises whenever there is ongoing change in the structure of situations that have built up over time from heterogeneous components and are embedded or situated within wider dynamics. In the chapters ahead I explore the significance of unruly complexity in three realms: in ecology and socio-environmental change (in which social and ecological processes are interwoven); in the interactions among researchers and other social agents as they establish what counts as knowledge; and in efforts to feed interpretations of those interactions into ecological research-or, more broadly, to link knowledge-making, interpretation, and social change.

I construe social change broadly. It may be as ambitious as stemming the degradation of some natural resource or redirecting government policies that allocate funds to different scientific fields. But it may also be as local as focusing an audience's attention on certain themes, which is closer to the spirit of this book. I do not provide possible solutions to pressing environmental, scientific, or social problems, or a comprehensive theory of their causes. My more modest goal is to stimulate scientists who deal with ecological complexity, as well as researchers who interpret the ecological-like complexity of scientific change, to become more self-conscious and systematic about the ways they deal with the unruliness of complex situations. This shift would include researchers reflecting critically-that is, in relation to alternative possibilities-on their efforts to modify the social and technical conditions in which their research takes shape.

The way I promote critical reflection on concepts and practice is to introduce questions and themes intended to disturb various conceptual boundaries used by researchers when they focus attention on (supposedly) well-bounded systems and push complicating dynamics or processes out of view. I develop these questions and themes through concrete cases from my own work; these cases open up one to the next in a way that mirrors to some degree the critical reflection I favor. The cases all involve ecological or socio-environmental situations, but their style and content differ according to the intellectual field in which each case is centered-first, theoretical ecology, then philosophy of science, history and sociology of science, and socio-environmental studies, and eventually, facilitation and teaching of reflective practice and critical thinking (from hereon, critical reflective practice).

The sequence of cases should help researchers and students in this wide range of fields appreciate more acutely the limitations of assuming that ecological, scientific, and social complexity can be delimited into well-bounded systems. My hope is that readers will then take steps, on their own and in collaboration with others, to reconstruct the unruliness of complexity without suppressing it, to link knowledge-making to social change, and to wrestle with the potential and limitations of critical reflection as a means to redirect practice. In the words of Raymond Williams (1980, 83), I want to encourage others not to "mentally draw back [and be] spared the effort of looking, in any active way, at the whole complex of social and natural relationships which is at once our product and our activity."
Table of Contents and Full text of Prologue [pdf]
Summary of Themes and Questions Opened up [pdf]
Narrative [pdf]

"Exploring themes about social agency through interpretation of diagrams of nature and society," in How Nature Speaks: The Dynamics of the Human Ecological Condition , ed. Y. Haila and C. Dyke. Durham, NC, Duke University Press, forthcoming.

When environmental researchers and commentators speak about how nature speaks to them (and, through them, to their audiences), they often use diagrams that depict ideas about the relationship between nature and society or between natural and social processes. In this essay I examine some of these diagrams in order to speak about the themes that I see informing the study of social and environmental dynamics, including themes about the position researchers take with respect to such dynamics, that is, the researchers' politics or social agency.
I use the catch-all term "theme" to denote my interest in simple propositions that stimulate our thinking, open up questions for us to inquire into, and lead us to generate new theory. Of course, propositions can also be read as representations of some (general or specific) aspect of the world, but, as will become evident, I am skeptical or critical of simple propositions as representations. The basic movement in this essay is to problematize themes that ask us to think of the environmental or social situation studied in terms of dynamics among simple variables in some well-bounded system. I place such themes in tension with others having three qualities: they link subjects across conventional boundaries; they discount their own appearance of generality by drawing attention to considerations that have been placed in the background or beyond their scope; and/or they point to further work needed to analyze particular, complex situations. In this spirit, I problematize themes that focus our attention within the boundary of the researchers' "dialogue" with the situations studied and I introduce themes that interpret such dialogue with reference to the social interactions or social agency involved in establishing knowledge and acting on it. I am especially interested in interpretive themes that depict social agency as distributed across different kinds of agents and scales of social interactions.

"A reconstrução da complexidade ecológica sem regras: ciência, interpretação e prática reflexiva crítica" [Reconstructing unruly ecological complexity: Science, interpretation, and critical, reflective practice], pp. 529-551 in Conhecimento Prudente para Uma Vida Decente: Um Discurso sobre as Ciências Revisitado [Prudent Knowledge for a Decent Life: A Discourse on the Sciences Revisited], ed. B. de Sousa Santos, Porto: Afrontamento 2003. Revised version to appear in Cognitive Justice in a Global World: Prudent Knowledges for a Decent Life, ed. B. de Sousa Santos, Madison: University of Madison Press, forthcoming.
Involvement in environmental issues in the 1970s led me, as it did many fellow activists, to study the science of ecology. Having a mathematical disposition, I chose to focus less on field studies and more on quantitative analysis and theoretical modeling. I soon developed an interest, which continues to this day, in the challenge that ecological complexity poses to conventional scientific ways of knowing. As I explored this challenge, my work in ecology and socio-environmental studies opened out to interpretive studies of science and then to facilitation of critical, reflective practice. Within each of these realms as well as in moving among them, my interest became to problematize the conceptual boundaries that researchers use to partition of complex situations into well-bounded systems and backgrounded or hidden processes.
When researchers assume that there are systems with clearly defined boundaries, coherent internal dynamics, and simply mediated relations with their external context, they can locate themselves outside the systems and seek generalizations and principles affording a natural or economical reduction of complexity. A contrasting image is that well-bounded systems, when they are encountered, require explanation as special cases of unruly complexity, in which boundaries and categories are problematic, levels and scales are not clearly separable, structures are subject to restructuring, and components undergo ongoing differentiation in relation to each other. Control and generalization are difficult and no privileged standpoint exists. The position I have come to is that researchers who want to discipline unruly complexity, but not to suppress it, have to pay more attention to their own agency within the participatory restructuring of knowledge making and social change.
This essay reconstructs my intellectual journey towards this position, one that resonates with de Sousa Santos's (1992) Discourse on the Sciences. The episodes are less about participatory restructuring, however, than they are about exploring concepts and eventually coming to articulate my project in terms of intersections among three strands: disciplining unruly complexity; linking knowledge making to changing diverse social relations; and wrestling with the potential and limitations of conceptual exploration. With respect to this last strand, the detail I present will be specific to my own inquiries, but the themes developed are meant to stimulate readers to problematize analogous boundaries and address analogous complexities in their own fields of inquiry and practice. I believe that the concepts and issues I raise should be taken up more broadly, but I have no hesitation admitting the heuristic intent of the essay. I recognize that analogies can be applied in circumstances for which they do not serve well or can misguide the theorist. As will become evident, however, I am especially interested in conceptual moves that open up issues about addressing complexity, but do so in ways that point to further work that needs to be undertaken to deal with particular cases. ( full text version, pdf)

"Critical Reflections on the Use of Remote Sensing and GIS Technologies in Human Ecological Research," Human Ecology, 2003 (with M. Turner*)

"Non-standard lessons from the 'tragedy of the commons'," pp. 87-105 in M. Maniates (ed.) Encountering Global Environmental Politics: Teaching, Learning, and Empowering Knowledge. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
Though widely critiqued for its assumption that groups of individuals are incapable of self-organizing, Garrett Hardin's idea of the "tragedy of the commons" remains a very influential framework for environmental policymakers and activists alike. Introductory textbooks frequently present the tragedy as fact of life, while intermediate treatments of policymaking adopt threats to the commons as an organizing structure. The framework is both pervasive and insidious. Its simplicity is alluring, but its underlying claims about the limits of human stewardship of nature and capacity for "thinking outside the box," if accepted acritically, make it almost impossible to fathom how we might together devise systems of global environmental governance.
Peter Taylor... is an environmental and science educator who likes to illuminate established ideas from new angles. He helps his students understand hidden assumptions, especially where they concern people's "agency" -- their ability to influence the practice of environmental research and politics. In this essay he begins with a report on his classroom simulation of the tragedy. His observations of students' responses to the simulation allow him to highlight the shortcomings of the idea and also to comment on the ways that people use simple models to address ecological and social complexity. In a second section he describes extensions appropriate for more advanced undergraduate and graduate classes. In the final section he spells out his vision of critical thinking and the productive role for ambiguity. You are welcome to read this section early on if you would like to know more in advance about where he is taking you. However, if you just let the ideas emerge as the chapter unfolds, your experience will more closely approximate the one Taylor intends for his students. ( full text version)

"'Whose trees/interpretations are these?' Bridging the divide between subjects and outsider-researchers," for R. Eglash, J. Croissant, G. DiChiro, and R. Fouche (eds.), Appropriating Technology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming.

The ideal of Participatory Action Research (PAR) (Greenwood and Levin 1998) is that researchers shape their inquiries through on-going work with and empowerment of people whose lives stand to be most affected by some change in social policy or technological development, such digging of deep wells for irrigation. In the first half of this essay, I describe a Kenyan agro-forestry project that exemplifies PAR and shows its potential for bridging the divide between subjects and outsider-researchers. The professional agroforesters in the project facilitated the appropriation by farmers and other community members of the "technology" of doing research and the result was science and technology more appropriate for the farms and community than if the agroforesters had produced it for them.
The example of PAR in agro-forestry inspires the second half of this short essay, in which I sketch an equivalent appropriation of the doing of research in another field-social studies of science and technology (STS). Certain prominent figures in STS have drawn attention to the complexity of agents and resources involved in shaping science and technology (Law 1986, Latour 1987, Haraway 1994). Although this emphasis has been conceptually and rhetorically influential, it has not led to a systematic framework for exposing possible points of engagement for STS researchers and other agents. However, STS researchers who embrace the ideal of PAR and insist on bridging the divide between subjects and outsider-researchers are well positioned to appropriate STS's conceptual center and produce a more powerful framework for addressing the "unruliness" of "constructed" complexity.

Situatedness and Problematic Boundaries: Conceptualizing Life's Complex Ecological Context," Biology & Philosophy, 16 (4), 521-532, 2001. (with Y. Haila).

A key challenge in conceptualizing ecological complexity is to allow simultaneously for particularity, contingency, and structure, and for such structure to change, be internally differentiated, and have problematic boundaries. Together with the fact that all organisms live in dynamic ecological contexts, this gives philosophy of ecology the potential to be a site where difficult questions are addressed concerning the situatedness or positionality of organisms-humans included-in their intersecting worlds. (PDF full text version)

"Distributed agency within intersecting ecological, social, and scientific processes," pp. 313-332 in S. Oyama, P. Griffiths and R. Gray (Eds.), Cycles of Contingency: Developmental Systems and Evolution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001

Whenever theory has built on the dynamic unity and coherency of structures or units, we might consider, instead, what would follow if those units were to be explained as contingent outcomes of "intersecting processes." This broad heuristic informs this essay's extensions of Developmental Systems Theory to cases in the sociology of mental illness, social-environmental studies, and social studies of science. I link the three cases in a project of reconceptualizing human agents, in particular agents who are establishing knowledge and engaging in change. I show that viewing agents in terms of intersecting processes is also equivalent to teasing open their "heterogeneous construction," that is, their contingent and on-going mobilizing of webs of diverse materials, tools, people, and other resources.

"From natural selection to natural construction to disciplining unruly complexity: The challenge of integrating ecology into evolutionary theory," in R. Singh, K. Krimbas, D. Paul & J. Beatty (eds.), Thinking About Evolution: Historical, Philosophical and Political Perspectives, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 377-393, 2000.

In the third chapter of On the Origin of Species, Darwin introduced his concept of natural selection by noting that, given the struggle for existence, "any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeeding, if it is in any degree profitable to an individual of any species in its infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to external nature, will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring" (Darwin 1859, p.61, my emphasis). That is, all evolution occurs in an ecological context. The structure and dynamics of evolution's ecological context have not, however, been well integrated into evolutionary theory. Population genetic evolutionary theory, most notably, has avoided unravelling ecological complexity by compressing organism-organism and organism-environment relationships into the fitness conferred on an organism by its characters. The center stage in theory could then be occupied by the genetic basis and differential representation of characters within single species. In turn, speciation could become a process of genetic divergence, in which the environment mostly took the role of raising and lowering barriers to gene flow.
In this essay I bring into focus the challenges of making evolutionary theory more ecological. Or, given that ecological dynamics are implicit in any evolutionary theory, I might say, making these dynamics explicit. Writing in the spirit of Lewontin's essays on organisms constructing their environments, I do not present a well formed program of ecological evolutionary theory, but point to the existence of problems. My aim is to provoke further, much needed, discussion.

There are two strands to my argument, which correspond to two interpretations of the quote from Darwin above. Read one way, Darwin was deflecting attention from a major weakness in the conceptual structure of natural selection as a theory of evolutionary change. "Do not ask me," Darwin is saying, "to identify which characters of an organism confer fitness; there are too many indirect interactions and feedbacks to do this reliably. Just take it as self-evident that there must be such characteristics." Suppose instead that we focus attention on identifying such characters, the critera by which nature "selects." In part I I examine the resulting problems and argue that they warrant replacing the metaphor of natural selection; "natural construction" is my proposal. Of these problems, the one that concerns me most here is the non-integration of ecological dynamics into evolutionary theory.

A second, more charitable and forward looking, reading of the passage quoted is that Darwin foreshadowed an integrated ecological-evolutionary theory. In this spirit, part II of this essay reviews approaches to theorizing ecological organization, with the goal of identifying a) ways evolutionary theory fits into them (explicitly and implicitly); and b) more precisely the shape of the challenge of integrating ecological dynamics into evolutionary theory. I conclude that to meet the challenge of integrating ecology into evolutionary theory, natural constructionists would need to be recognize that ecological complexity is more "unruly" than it is structured or "system-like."

"Philosophy of Ecology" in Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. London: Macmillan, 2001. (with Y. Haila)

"The Philosophical dullness of classical ecology, and a Levinsian alternative," Biology & Philosophy, 16 (1), 93-102, 2001. (with Y. Haila*)

"Socio-ecological webs and sites of sociality : Levins' strategy of model building revisited," Biology & Philosophy, 15 (2): 197-210.

This essay reformulates Levins' analysis of model building in ecology and evolutionary biology so as to identify several points where decisions are required that are not determined by nature for example, the range of competing models compared. These decisions are an unavoidable part of modeling, which invites us to examine what else modelers are responding to, what reactions are taking place at these "sites of sociality." It seems that scientists "select their problems, define their categories, collect their data, and present their findings so that, simultaneously, the models can be seen to represent their subject matter, the modelers can secure the support of colleagues, collaborators and institutions, and they can enjoin others to act upon their conclusions;" scientists are weavers of "socio-ecological webs." ( full text pdf version)

"What can agents do?: Engaging with complexities of the post-Hardin commons" pp. 125-156 in L. Freese (ed.), Advances in Human Ecology, Vol. 8. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1999.

Since the mid 1980s the institutions through which non-privatized, common resources are managed have been examined by a growing number of social-environmental researchers. Actual agents, it emerges, often do better than those envisaged in Garrett Hardin's influential 1968 paper on the "tragedy of the commons." Where commons research revolves around the question "What can agents do?," my interest in the complexities of both environmental and scientific change leads me to ask a complementary question, "What social change can researchers affect or facilitate with their various understandings?" The relevant understandings concern not only the situations that commons researchers study, but also the social situations in which the researchers are embedded. I contrast simple formulations of well-bounded systems with work that attends to "intersecting processes" or dynamics among particular, unequal agents whose actions implicate or span a range of social realms. "Critical heuristics" are introduced as a means to address tensions among these two poles. The resulting multi-part framework is intended to apply to environmental and scientific analyses and to analyses from social studies of science and technology. The ultimate goal of this essay is to stimulate further work on what agents can do-but not alone or through their accounts of the world alone-to contribute self-consciously to the on-going restructuring of the intersecting processes in which particular knowledge-making and social changing agents are situated. ( full text version, pdf)

How does the commons become tragic? Simple models as complex socio-political constructions," Science as Culture 7 (4), 449-464, 1998.

All ecological theorizing and all circumstances studied in ecology can be viewed as "situated." Diverse intersecting strands shape the social situations in which research can be undertake, and a similar complexity of intersecting processes constitute the objects and situations it studies. To illustrate and support this perspective, this essay reinterprets a simple, but very influential model of environmental degradation, Garrett Hardin's "tragedy of the commons." I want to make plausible the idea that when any phenomenon is analyzed as a coherent system -- and this is what Hardin's model does -- this analysis can be reinterpreted in terms of the specialness of the circumstances selected to be studied and in terms of other "rhetorical" work done in making the phenomenon appear system-like. The conventional strategies in science gives priority -- in method, theoretical development, and aesthetics -- to posing simple principles behind complex appearances. A lot of new thinking can be opened up by inversion of this relationship, by recognizing that simple models should be read as entailing complex social constructions.

"Natural Selection: The heavy hand"

Social Darwinising-the reading of social meanings into and back out of biology-is facilitated by the basic conceptual structure or explanatory form of natural selection, one that seductively shortcuts the difficulties of explaining not only social but also biological phenomena. The conceptual scheme simply invites Darwinists to interpret what they see as something that is here because it triumphed through selection; they can accordingly flatten and squeeze history and function to fit. Moreover, the scheme entices Darwinists to promote what they would like to see, e.g., consolidation in the banking industry, as coming about because it is favoured by a natural, inevitable and right process of selection. In these ways Darwinian explanations about our behaviours and societies weigh heavily upon our imagination of social possibilities. In building my argument I employ Darwin's classic, On the Origin of Species, which provides a clear and multi-layered framework for appreciating what Darwinism entails.

"The dynamics of socio-environmental change and the limits of neo-Malthusian environmentalism," in T. Mount, H. Shue and M. Dore (Eds.), The limits to markets: Equity and the global environment. Oxford, Blackwell. (With R. Garci'a-Barrios#)

Population size or growth and environmental degradation are not related in any direct way. Focussing on the poor in rural societies, we show that, in order to understand the degradation of their environments, one needs to analyse the dynamics linking changes in the labour supply, the social organisation of production, technology, and the environment. Implicated in the maintenance, breakdown, or reorganisation of local institutions of production are the differentiation in any society or community, its social psychology (of norms and reciprocal expectations), and larger economic structures. In contrast, what we call neo-Malthusian environmentalism points to aggregate regional, national or global statistics and to calculations of ultimate bio-physical limits. We argue that these give very little insight into the social/ economic/ environmental dynamics of socio-environmental change.
Noting the persistent appeal of both the science and the politics of neo-Malthusian environmentalism, we interpret them as underwritten by both moralistic and technocratic conceptions of social action. The logical consequences of this discourse are unintended and undesirable effects, which contribute, contrary to the intentions of most environmentalists, to coercion and violence in the name of the environment. ( full text version)

Changing life: Genomes, ecologies, bodies, commodities. University of Minnesota Press (ed. with S. Halfon & P. Edwards)

From the cover: "A fascinating look at how the culture of today's life sciences affects our culture.

In laboratories all over the world, life-even the idea of life-is changing. And with these changes, whether they result in square tomatoes or cyborgs, come transformations in our social order-sometimes welcome, sometimes troubling, depending on where we stand. Changing Life offers a close look at how the mutable forms and concepts of life link the processes of science to those of information, finance, and commodities.

The contributors, drawn from disciplines within science and technology studies and from geography, ecology, and developmental biology, provide a range of interpretive angles on the metaphors, narratives, models, and practices of the life sciences. Their essays-about planetary management and genome sequencing, ecologies and cyborgs-address actual and imagined transformations at the center and at the margins of transnational relations, during the post-Cold War era and in times to come. They consider such topics as the declining regulatory state, ascendant transnational networks, and capital's legal reign over intellectual property, life-form patents, and marketable pollution licenses.

Changing Life argues that we cannot understand the power of the life sciences in modern society without exploring the intersections of science and technology with other cultural realms. To that end, this book represents a collective attempt to join the insights of science and technology studies and cultural studies. As a work of cultural politics, it makes a contribution to changing life in a context of changing social order."

Contributors: Simon Cole, Cornell U; Paul Edwards, Stanford U.; Scott Gilbert, Swarthmore College; Herbert Gottweis, U of Salzburg; Yrjö Haila, U of Tampere, Finland; Saul Halfon, Cornell U.; Rosaleen Love, Victoria U of Technology, Melbourne, Australia; and Richard Schroeder, Rutgers.

"How do we know we have global environmental problems? Undifferentiated science-politics and its potential reconstruction" in Changing Life.

Science has a central role in shaping what count as environmental problems, evident especially in the success of planetary science and environmental activism in stimulating awareness and discussion of global environmental problems. I advance four propositions about the special relationship between environmental science and politics: 1) In the formulation of science, not just its application certain course of action are facilitated over others; 2) In global environmental discourse, moral and technocratic view of social action have been privileged; 3) Global environmental change, as a framework for science and political mobilization, is vulnerable to surprises from unintended outcomes, unpredicted conflicts, and unlikely coalitions. These stem from different nations and differentiated social groups within nations having different interests in causing and alleviating environmental problems; and 4) Despite this vulnerability, globalized discourse in many ways is facilitating for many planetary scientists and environmental activists; reconstruction of environmental discourse requires more than the reconceptualization of science and politics I introduce.
I develop these propositions through a reinterpretation of The Limits to Growth study of the early 1970s and extensions of this to current studies of climate change and its human/social impacts; examples illustrating the vulnerability of global formulations of environmental issues, and a review of some of the developments in the 1980s that facilitated this form of science and politics.
I finish by reflecting on my own counter-exemplification; the four broad brush propositions can be read as attempts, like the frameworks they critique, to cut through the unequal and heterogeneous practical and conceptual facilitations of science and political mobilization. Without eliminating this contradiction, I reformulate the propositions as useful heuristics or accusations with which one can work to expose more of that heterogeneity. ( full text versionpdf)

Shifting positions for knowing and intervening in the cultural politics of the life sciences
Questions of epistemology and agency form my starting point here. These questions, however, become more complex than SSK tackles once we acknowledge, as Changing Life does, the large and heterogeneous arena in which life is re/constructed, an arena extending from genetically hybrid organisms to transnational economies. To better address such questions I identify five "shifts in positioning." Through the first shift scientists come to be treated as agents who construct jointly their knowing and intervening by mobilizing heterogeneous resources; the other four shifts build on this picture. The point, however, is not to refine our accounts of how scientists work in different contexts. Instead, I want to argue that, although the five shifts are already underway in particular sectors of cultural studies and STS, they can be pushed further and applied to a wider class of agents, ourselves included, who not only interpret, but also intervene in science, technology, and culture.( full text version)

"What's in it for us (in science studies)? Notes on "The economics of science," by Arthur Diamond," Knowledge and Policy, 9 (2/3): 55-57, 1996.

Committed to the idea that scientists, like all individuals, are utility maximizers, Diamond has reviewed the literature on the reward structures of science and what they explain about the behavior of scientists. Before science studiers begin to act as if there is much for them in the economics of science, economists ought to follow the lead of science studies and subject claims of knowledge and relevance to sophisticated philosophical, historical, cultural and political analyses. A fruitful two-way dialogue might then ensue.

"Building on construction: An exploration of heterogeneous constructionism, using an analogy from psychology and a sketch from socio-economic modelling" Perspectives on Science, 3(1), 66-98.

I explore heterogeneous constructionism, my term for the perspective that science in the making is a process of agents building by combining a diversity of components. Issues addressed include causality and explanation; transcending both realism and relativism; scientists as acting, intervening, and imaginative agents; explanations that span many levels of social practice; counterfactuals in the analysis of causal claims; and practical reflexivity. An analogy from research on the social origins of depression and a sketch from my own experience in socioeconomic modeling are used to motivate and render more concrete the form of heterogeneous constructionism I am advocating.

"Co-construction and process: a response to Sismondo's classification of constructivisms" Social Studies of Science, 25 (2): 348-359.

Any classification into types can clarify our view of the whole while, at the same time, distracting our attention from hybrids and the processes by which they are formed and sustained. In this light, the recent review by Sismondo, which teases out some of the multiple meanings given to the term 'construction,' and his subsequent exchange with Knorr Cetina, should leave us troubled. Many of us are interested in the processes of science in the making, in which scientific theories, materials, tools, language, institutions, and wider social relations are being co-constructed, and are trying to analyse the diverse 'resources' drawn upon by agents in such co-construction processes. Sismondo's classification makes little space for that strand of social studies of science, focussing as it does on the type of thing being produced, not the processes of their production. Knorr Cetina does not take issue with him on that account. She applauds his review as an overdue clarification of constructivisms (constructionisms) and, after a brief plug for philosophers to become more sociological, centres her response on defending a conceptual claim about representations preceeding existence. If clarification means providing distinctions we should work with, we should be less satisfied with Sismondo's taxonomy. I feel like a misfit, and so, I suspect, do the many who have over the last decade been attracted to ideas such as 'ecologies of knowledge,' 'intersecting social worlds,' 'heterogeneous engineering,' and actors' 'networks' of resources. This note, however, does not criticise Sismondo just for the omission of a major category of constructivism, but argues that, from the perspective of what is omitted, his classification scheme breaks down. The distinctions do not hold in practice and Sismondo's conclusions about reconciling social studies of science with philosophy and about politics are not justified.

"The social analysis of ecological change: From systems to intersecting processes" Social Science Information, 34: 5-30, 1995. (With R. Garci'a-Barrios) Also published, slightly modified, as "El analisis social del cambio ecolo'gico," in J. Jardon (ed.). Recursos, Energia y Cambio Social. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1995.

Scientific analyses of ecological and social-ecological relations can be read, not only as representations of reality having greater or lesser empirical adequacy, but also as rhetoric about social action desired by the scientists in their given contexts. The task we set ourselves in this essay is to examine different approaches to understanding social-ecological relations, drawing upon the related themes of the constructedness of nature(s) and the contextuality of science.
What we see is that the different approaches can be located along one major axis. At one pole lie views and approaches that construct from ecology and from society natural units, "systems" in the strong sense of having clearly defined boundaries and coherent internal dynamics governing their development, structure and stability, and their adaptation to external influences. (Although system can be used more loosely to designate simply a collection of many interacting elements, we confine ourselves to strong view; in our view it is from this that most theory derives.) Observers can thus locate themselves outside the systems studied, and seek generalisations and principles affording a natural reduction of complexity. At the other pole, amplifying the epigraph from Wolf on the fluidity of societies, we find analysts grappling with historically contingent situations resulting from intersecting processes, in which boundaries and categories are problematic, levels and scales are not clearly separable, and structures are subject to restructuring. Differentiation and change, not adaptation or equilibrium, characterises these situations of "unruly complexity." Control and generalisation are difficult and no privileged standpoint exists; in fact, the boundary between scientist and engaged participant can hardly be maintained (Taylor 1990, 1992a). (We add more aspects to the systems-intersecting processes contrast as we proceed.)
We want to reinforce and stimulate interest in work that moves us towards the second pole, the "social analysis of ecological change," as we call it, and to highlight the more subtle science it provides. It is not at all easy to make sense of diverse intersecting processes without affording one side of persistent dichotomies, such as global-local, nature-society, individual-environment, and science-interpretation, a privileged position over, and abstracted from the other. But, to the extent that people take on this task, social analysis of ecological change promises to contribute significantly to the development of social theory more generally. Of course, no end-point or mature version yet exists for us to point to; instead people have been taking many directions, with greater and lesser self-consciousness of the theoretical challenges entailed, and in recurrent tension with system-like tendencies and the demands for objective accounts that still dominate science.
We tease out various dimensions of the tension between approaches based on systems and those unravelling intersecting processes, evident in divergent answers to questions such as: What do peasants and indigenous peoples know about their environment? What knowledge are they able to put into practice? How do we come to know these things about them? How is human rationality -- economic, ecological and otherwise -- rhetorically constructed?; likewise, human-environment adaptation, traditional societies and primitiveness? How do local social-environmental situations intersect with larger political economic processes? Can ecological and social dynamics and, similarly, material and cultural processes, be theoretically integrated? Our discussion of these issues provides a critique of systems approaches (dominant in the post war decades, but still popular today) and, at the same time, indicates the openness of the intellectual terrain facing theorists of intersecting processes. That is, notwithstanding the somewhat polemical paragraphs we allow ourselves at the end of this essay, there is no simple moral in the social analysis of ecological change, nor is there likely to be.
A few notes on the scope of what follows: Our orientation is towards Anglo-American studies of rural and Third world situations, and so our discussion spans fields such as anthropology, human ecology, range ecology, geography, environmental history, and social studies of science. The range of fields in a "social analysis of ecological change" should, however, be extended sometime to cover urban and industrial environmental analyses; similarly, a comparison with non-Anglo-American studies would be valuable. Even within the scope just defined, the citations are intended to provide key entry-points only; our goal is not exhaustive coverage of the literature, but to motivate the interpretive themes or dimensions laid out above. With this agenda, the review follows more or less a historical sequence, which helps us to locate the origins of the different approaches, trace their development, and convey a sense of momentum or progress towards the intersecting processes view. ( full text version)

"Review of A History of the Ecosystem Concept in Ecology by Frank Golley" Isis, 86 (3): 523-524, 1995.
"Shifting frames: From divided to distributed psychologies of scientific agents," Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994, Vol.2, 304-310.
I characterize and then complicate Solomon, Thagard and Goldman's framing of the issue of integrating cognitive and social factors in explaining science. I sketch a radically different framing which distributes the mind beyond the brain, embodies it, and has that mind-body-person become, as s/he always is, an agent acting in a society. I also find problems in Solomon's construal of multivariate statistics, Thagard's analogies for multivariate analysis, and Goldman's faith in the capacity of the community of users of scientific method to home in on true beliefs.

"Review of Foundations of Ecology L. Real & J. Brown (eds.) and Pioneer Ecologist by R. Croker" Isis, 84: 177-179, 1993.

"How do we know we have global environmental problems?: Science and the globalization of environmental discourse" Geoforum, 23: 405-416, 1992. (With F. Buttel) -- see revised version

"Environmental sociology and global environmental change: A critical assessment" Society and Natural Resources, 5:211-230, 1992 (With F. Buttel*) Revised version, pp. 228-255 in M. Redclift & T. Benton (eds.) Social Theory and the Global Environment, Routledge, 1994.

"Re/constructing socio-ecologies: System dynamics modeling of nomadic pastoralists in sub-Saharan Africa" pp.115-148 in A. Clarke & J. Fujimura (eds.) The Right Tools for the Job: At Work in Twentieth Century Life Sciences, Princeton University Press, 1992.

By 1973 the semi-arid Sahel region of West Africa had experienced five years of drought and developing crisis. Many pastoralists (livestock herders) and farmers were in refugee camps, their herds decimated and their crops having failed again. Western commentators at the time focussed not only on famine relief but on the causes of the crisis and on prospects for the regions' future. Some saw the Sahelian drought and famine as a forerunner of further widespread population-resource crises to come; almost all agreed that the ecological resource base of the Sahel region had been seriously damaged. Once emergency relief was underway, discussion turned to longer term measures needed for recovery and for prevention of future disasters. The U.S. Agency for International development (USAID) funded a one-year, $1 million project at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to evaluate long-term development strategies for the Sahel and the bordering "Sudan" region. One component of the project was a study of nomadic pastoralists. These livestock herders spend part of each year moving with their livestock over the range in search of pasture, a migration necessary because rainfall in the Sahel is patchy in distribution and varies greatly from year to year, dramatically affecting the location of good pasture. After a three week visit to the region a graduate student at MIT, whom I shall call "M", with a background in systems analyses of population and ecological issues, constructed and reported on a sequence of three system dynamic models "for understanding the ecological and social dynamics of the pastoral system." M's models of pastoralists included many factors and mathematical relationships. Yet he summarized his findings simply, in terms of the "tragedy of the commons" (Hardin 1968): Each herder with access to common rangeland follows the same logic: "I will receive the benefit in the short run from increasing my herd by one animal; everyone will share any cost of diminished pasture per animal; therefore I will add another animal to my herd." Overstocking and overgrazing was thus inevitable. Soil degradation and eventual desertification could be avoided only if all the pastoralists replaced their individual self-interest with "long-term preservation of the resource base as their first priority," perhaps requiring them to enter ranching schemes that privatized or strictly supervised access to pasture. The central task of this essay is to reconstruct M's modeling work. M's models, I claim, were shaped by his employing a range of resources, which included: the available computer compiler; available data; the short length of time both in the field and for the project as a whole; the work relations within the MIT team; the relationship of the United States and USAID to other international involvement in the region; the terms of reference set by USAID and the agency's contradictory expectations of the project. The task of interrelating the diversity of such resources raises serious methodological and conceptual challenges, which the counterfactual method developed in this paper begins to address. I also explore a parallel between M's work, the practices of the pastoralists themselves, and my reconstruction. We share the task of addressing ecological and social complexity together. At all three levels socio-ecologies have to be constructed.

"Feminist Tales: Review of The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories by R. Love and The Recurring Silent Spring by P. Hynes," Science, Technology, and Human Values, 16 (4): 540-543, 1991.

"Pictorial representation in biology" Biology & Philosophy, 6:125-134, 1991. (With A. Blum)

Philosophical discussion of pictorial representation lags well behind analyses of verbal and textual propositions. The special issue of Biology & Philosophy, for which this essay is an introduction, aims to stimulate philosophers, and also historians and sociologists of science, to direct their attention towards the role and special characteristics of pictorial representations in biology, in particular, diagrams, graphs, and printed pictures. After reviewing the essays in the issue, we discuss two additional areas that are insufficiently explored in the essays and accompanying references: the historical development of conventions of pictorial representation in science, and the intertwining of visual and textual representation.

"Ecosystems as circuits: Diagrams and the limits of physical analogies" Biology &Philosophy,;6:275-294, 1991. (With A. Blum)

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.

The Ecology of Bishop Creek Brown Trout; Vol. II: Trout Population Model & Vol. III:Trout Population Model User's Manual. Reports by BioSystems Analysis, Inc. to So. California Edison, 1991. (With A. Small)

"Unfilled Holes in Conceptual Niche Space?" Book Review of Cherrett, J.M. (ed.). Ecological concepts: the contribution of ecology to an understanding of the natural world, Ecology 72(2), pp. 759-760, 1991

"Mapping ecologists' ecologies of knowledge" Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990, Vol.2, 95-109

Ecologists, particularly those who consider socially generated effects in the environment, 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, which make up what historian Charles Rosenberg has called "ecologies of knowledge" (Rosenberg 1988). 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.

"Developmental versus morphological approaches to modeling ecological complexity" Oikos 55:434-436, 1989

Although modellers intend their models to refer to some (conceivably) observable things, the impact of ecological models has come less from achieving tight correspondence with observations than from models' exploratory role, that is, from their helping ecologists derive new questions to ask, new terms to employ, or different models to construct. It is with the aim of stimulating further conceptual exploration by theorists and mathematical modellers that I have framed this rejoinder to DeAngelis and Waterhouse (1987; from here on, D&W).
;In their excellent review, D&W;present a schema of ecological modelling related to the issue of persistence over time of communities of species. Their starting point is an "equilibrium" view, in which systems move toward or away from a steady state. Increasing disruption from internal feedbacks or environmental stochasticity leads to emphasis on "biotic instability" or "stochastic domination," respectively. Accounting for the persistence of communities despite these disruptions leads D&W;to a "landscape" view, in which a community may persist in a landscape of interconnected patches even though the community is transient in each of the patches.
While endorsing most of D&W's;interpretations, this note draws an additional contrast, between a "morphological" approach to ecological modelling, in which complexity is analysed in terms of its current configuration, i.e., as a "snapshot," and a "developmental" approach, which recognises that complexity can develop over time through the addition and elimination of populations (or other components). The developmental approach is not new, but it suggests pathways for exploration that have generally been overlooked or less travelled by theoretical ecologists and it raises the challenge of modelling complexity that has structure together with a history of structuring and restructuring.

"Mapping workshops for teaching ecology" Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 70:123-125, 1989. (With Y. Haila)

"Connecting and extending our ecological science" was the title of a small workshop that we led at the University of Helsinki in April 1988. The workshop was motivated by two main issues: How can we steer our ecological science so it is not overspecialized but instead remains responsive and relevant to environmental concerns? How can we integrate the diverse yet partial theoretical themes prevalent in ecology? To address these issues the participants were guided 1) to construct "maps", that is, to define their key questions and trace the practical and theoretical connections on which they presently depend; and 2) to "revise" those maps and rethink their theoretical interests and research programs with three goals in mind: a) complementing the work of others in the workshop, b) responding to the needs of environmentalist social movements (e.g. in conservation and in sustainable development), and c) integrating interpretative themes from the "tool-box" developed by the workshop leaders. We cannot claim that the Helsinki workshop achieved all these aims or solved the two issues that motivated it. Nevertheless we consider the mapping workshop approach to have sufficient potential, both for teaching and for theorizing in ecology, to report on the approach at this early stage in its development. In this note we outline only the elements of mapping workshops and discuss how we used the approach to stimulate advanced students in defining their research. Mapping workshops also have potential applications for collaborative ecological theorizing, for examining the sociology of ecological science, and for on-going environmental assessment, but we leave discussion of these issues to a longer version of this article

"Revising models and generating theory" Oikos 54:121-126, 1989.

"Technocratic optimism, H.T. Odum and the partial transformation of ecological metaphor after World War 2" J. Hist. Biol. 21:213-244, 1988.

In October 1946 the Yale ecologist G. Evelyn Hutchinson (b.1903) delivered a paper entitled "Circular Causal Systems in Ecology" to an interdisciplinary conference at the New York Academy of Sciences (Hutchinson 1948). Hutchinson emphasized themes that would come to dominate ecology in the United States. In brief, he was exploring, as his title indicated, the concept of ecological relations as systems. This concept drew upon, but also made significant extensions to, the then prevailing organicist accounts of ecological complexity.
Hutchinson's paper provides me with a convenient starting point from which to trace conceptual connections and to characterize changes after World War 2 in the way ecologists in the United States studied ecological complexity. I subsequently move my focus to H.T. Odum (b. 1924), a student of Hutchinson's, who extensively developed his program during the 1950s and pioneered the field which has come to be known as systems ecology.
Organicism, undergoing a transformation into a systems view, was at the same time a source of social metaphor; ecological and social concepts are strongly connected in Hutchinson's and Odum's thinking. Their work allows me to highlight aspects of their social context, in particular, the "technocratic optimism" of the post-war years. The idea of technocratic management of society had a long history, but World War 2, particularly as it was experienced by scientists, transformed the character of that political fantasy. Government funding and organization of science under military imperatives produced significant results, giving currency to the belief that intervention on a large scale could be practically realized. Moreover, scientific control of complex systems seemed necessary to prevent further social upheavals or holocaust. Optimism about the benefits of such control overshadowed possible doubts about its implications for democratic political life.
The term technocrat has come to denote someone advocating technical approaches to social issues. The technocrat believes he can handle social complexity in a value-free manner, maintaining a distance from specific interests and political details, and through such non-dependency and disengagement he can best serve all. But it is typical of social philosophies framed in terms of universal interests that their proponents hold a special place in the proposed social organization. In my account I show that technocratic optimism facilitated H.T. Odum's early work in powerful ways; more than being the context of his work, technocratic optimism is constitutive of his concepts, methods and organization of research. This interpretation of Odum's transformation of metaphor for ecological complexity represents a partial reconciliation of strong externalist and realist interpretations of science. The realism, however, is not centered on the scientist's representation of nature but instead on the scientist's interventions within nature -- interventions which society facilitates in actuality, as possibilities, or as powerful fantasies.

"Glasnost?: Eyes Opening in the USSR" Science as Culture 3:124-132, 1988.

"The construction and turnover of complex community models having Generalized Lotka-Volterra dynamics" J. Theor. Biol. 135:569-588, 1988.

"Consistent Scaling and Parameter Choice for Linear and Generalized Lotka-Volterra Models Used in Community Ecology" J. Theor. Biol. 135:543-568, 1988.

"The Strategy of Model Building in Ecology, Revisited" 8th. Int. Congr. Logic, Meth. & Phil. of Sci., Volume 2:308-311, 1987.

"Historical versus Selectionist Explanations in Evolutionary Theory" Cladistics 3: 1-13,1987.

"Dialectical Biology as Political Practice. An essay review of R. Levins & R. Lewontin The Dialectical Biologist" pp 81-111 in L. Levidow (eds.) Science as Politics, Free Association Books, 1986.
"Community" pp. 52-60 in E.F. Keller & E. Lloyd (eds.) Keywords in evolutionary biology,Harvard University Press, 1992

Integrating the structure and dynamics of evolution's ecological context into evolutionary theory remains a neglected project. It is against this background that this entry reviews the approaches to ecological organization apparent in the different meanings given to the term community in ecology. My coverage is biased towards the United States and selected with an eye to building a map of key theoretical positions, and not to presenting a survey of concrete results. The references I give (mostly reviews or compilations of essays) should enable readers to fill in the cast of actors, the biology of the organisms, and the other detail in historical and contemporary debates.

"A description with some applications of MSNUCY, a computer model combining interspecific interactions with nutrient cycling" Envir. Sci. Division Publication 2419, O.R.N.L., 1985. (With W.M.Post.)

"The Kerang Farm Model" Technical Paper no. 12 of I.A.E.S.R, 1979.

"Economic aspects of the use of water resources in the Kerang Region" Technical Paper no. 11 of the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (I.A.E.S.R.). (Second report to the Ministry of Water Resources, Victoria), 1979. (With J.Ferguson and A.Smith).

"Economic aspects of the use of water resources in the Kerang Region" First report to the Ministry of Water Resources, Victoria, 1978. (With J.Ferguson and A.Smith).

"Some computer programs for the analysis of genotype x environment interaction" Proc Int. Congr. Soc. Advances of Breeding Res. in Asia & Oceania, 3d(v.1):56-58, 1977. (With R. Eisemann, I.DeLacy and D.Byth).

"A new approach to the analysis of genotypic adaptation and genotype x environment interactions" and "A comparison of methods of analysis of GxE interactions and adaptation responses in a large data set" Proc Int. Congr. Soc. Advances of Breeding Res. in Asia & Oceania, 3d(v.1):16-22 and 41-46, 1977. (With R. Eisemann, I.DeLacy and D.Byth*).

Works in progress and selected presentations

"Notes towards guidelines about specific situations and specific ways in which specific technologies are of significant pedagogical benefit, " submitted to Connexions.
Although I use a variety of technologies in my teaching, I had not articulated my philosophy until I had to teach teachers about computers and education. I did not find a text that I resonated with and during the first semester began to develop my own guidelines. I cannot claim much success getting students to address my guidelines or to articulate their own pedagogical rationale for using computers. For the start of the second semester, I prepared a typically didactic powerpoint presentation to try to set the terms for the course. The collapse of the internet stockmarket bubble helped to create more space for critical thinking about the use of technology, but still I was not very successful in keeping students' sights on the education side of computers in education. I look forward to hearing thoughts from ISETA members about the comparison and guidelines to follow.

"Fostering critical thinking through attention to the inter- and intrapersonal," Center for Excellence in Teaching and Writing, Oregon State University, February 2001.

In this two-hour workshop participants will be able to explore three teaching/learning themes:
i) Critical thinking as a personal journey into unknown areas or where one sees known areas in new light;
ii) Clearing mental space so that thoughts about an issue in question can emerge that had been below the surface of our attention; and
iii) Respect for the variety of perspectives, styles of learning, and dispositions for critical thinking.

"The hidden complexity of simple models, or Why theorists of all kinds should be troubled by unmodeled variables having dynamical lives of their own, " For T. Auerbach (ed.), Complexities Of Life: Ecology, Society and Health

Can ecological theory generate principles that could be usefully generalized across ecological situations? Particularism has been a perennial attraction in ecology, but a new source of doubt gained momentum by the end of the 1980s after theorists started looking at "indirect interactions" -- effects mediated through the populations not immediately in focus, or, more generally, through "hidden variables" that have their own dynamics. How much do indirect effects confound principles derived on the basis of observing the direct interactions among populations? My exploration of this question should challenge not only ecologists, but theorists in all fields that make use of models of any kind of sub-system elevated from the complexity in which the sub-system is actually embedded.

"We know more than we are, at first, prepared to acknowledge: Critical thinking as journeying"

Exponents of critical thinking emphasize the teaching of skills and dispositions for scrutinizing the assumptions, reasoning, and evidence brought to bear on an issue by others and by oneself. In short, they promote thinking about thinking. But how do students come to see where there are issues to be opened up and identify them without relying on some authority? The current form of my evolving "answer" is that people need support to grapple with inevitable tensions in personal and intellectual development -- support to undertake journeys that involve risk, open up questions, create more experiences than can be integrated at first sight, require support, and yield personal change. In this essay I present five passages in a pedagogical journey that has led from teaching undergraduate science-in-society courses to running a graduate program in critical thinking and reflective practice for teachers and other mid-career professionals. I have shaped these passages to expose some of my conceptual and practical struggles in learning to decenter pedagogy and to provide space and support for students to develop as critical thinkers. The key challenge I highlight is of helping people make knowledge and practice from insights and experience that they are not prepared, at first, to acknowledge. In a self-exemplifying style, each passage raises some questions for further inquiry or discussion. My hope is that the essay as a whole stimulates readers to grapple with issues they were not aware they faced and to generate questions beyond those I present.
See full text of an earlier draft

"Process and product in the generation of environmental knowledge and inquiry"

Since the late-1980s many accounts in the social studies of science and technology (STS) have discussed establishing scientific knowledge and the effectiveness of technologies in terms of heterogeneous resources mobilized by diverse agents spanning different realms of social action. In the environmental arena such "heterogeneous construction" (Taylor 1995) is, in effect, self-conciously organized through the frequent use of workshops and other "organized multi-person collaborative processes" (OMPCPs). This essay describes my own process of making sense of the workshop form for generating environmental knowledge and further inquiry.
This process was catalyzed by participating during the spring and summer of 2000 in four innovative, interdisciplinary workshops. By reflecting on these workshops and drawing on other experience I identified six angles for thinking about why a workshop (or OMPCP) might be needed to address the complexity of environmental issues. The angles relate both to establishing knowledge ("product" in the paper title) and to developing the capacity for further inquiry ("process") through participation in OMPCPs ("process"). I used the six angles to review the four workshops. This led me to dig deeper into how workshops work when they do and assemble a list of heuristics and some open-ended questioning. One of these heuristics, as will become evident shortly, involves making space for the audience to bring their own knowledge to the surface. One member of the audience for my first presentation on this topic offered to help me develop a more systematic set of principles for bringing about successful workshops. The outcome makes up the final section of this essay, and the basis for further inquiry on workshops and the process-product relationship more generally.
See full text of earlier draft

"Genes, gestation, and life experience: Environmental complexities in the age of DNA"
I have begun to examine the development and reception of three areas of epidemiology. (I use this term broadly to denote research that correlates traits in general, not only disease incidence, to antecedent factors in defined populations and attempts to determine the causal processes by which the traits develop over time.) Each approach complicates the persistent, albeit often qualified, contrasts: inborn and unchangeable versus environmental and changeable; and biological versus social. The areas are:
1) Research on gestational programming, which has identified associations between nutrition during critical periods in utero and diseases of late life, including heart disease, diabetes, and death by suicide;
2) Life events and difficulties research, which has exposed relationships between severe events and difficulties over a person's life course and the onset of mental or physical illness (Harris 2000); and
3) "Reciprocal causation" models of IQ development in which there is a matching of traits and the changing environments in which traits develop so as to allow both high heritability and large gains from one generation to the next.
In this essay I do not delve deeply into any of these approaches, but provide an introduction and overview sufficient, I hope, to bring more attention to the complexities of the "environment" and to the ways scientists account for the development of behavioral and medical conditions over any individual's lifetime. As part of exploring the significance of the three approaches, I identify various ways that they challenge each other as well as challenging more traditional accounts of gene-environment interactions from behavioral geneticists and from critics of biological determinism.

"Re/constructing social agency (and other important things) in the diagramming of social-natural processes" (with Chris London)

This paper exposes and opposes discursive idealizations and promotes new efforts at representing and intervening in the complexity of social-natural processes. We identify six aspects that are suppressed in most accounts of society and nature, or, at least, dealt with awkwardly: the inseparability of nature from society; social agency, which includes the agency of both the humans represented and the representers themselves; the differentiation among unequal agents implicted in social-natural processes, the heterogeneity of elements and scales, the historical contingency of the processes, and their structuredness.
We focus on diagrammatic representations, examining a range of diagrams in order to characterize the pictorial conventions, representational technologies, cognitive considerations, theoretical heuristics or preferences, and discursive interventions (or modes of "representing-intervening") that are brought into play in representing or obscuring the six key aspects of social-natural processes. In addition to interpreting diagramming, we promote experimentation in the use of diagrams of "heterogeneous resources" and of "intrasecting processes." Our goal is not simply to represent differently, but to facilitate self-conscious, reflexive "intraventions" in a world whose dynamics are characterized by the six aspects. In illustrating our points and proposals examples are used from the areas of political ecology, systems ecology, landscape restoration, and science studies. Our discussion should be of relevance to those who study visualization in science, and also to social theorists and a broad range of analysts of social-natural processes.

"Unruly complexity and a critique of the concept of system in ecological theory," Santa Fe Institute, November 1993.

Ecologists and environmental scientists, particularly those who consider socially generated effects in the environment, have to grapple with complex, changing situations. In what ways can we make sense of ecological complexity? My work in theoretical ecology has led me to hold an image of "unruly complexity"; this contrasts with dominant "system-like" representations in ecology (and elsewhere). My work in history and sociology of science has also led me to understand the dominant systems as privileging technocratic and/or moral practices or interventions in the world.
The contrast I am drawing is as follows: At one pole lie views and approaches that construct from ecology and from society natural units, "systems" in the strong sense of having clearly defined boundaries and coherent internal dynamics governing their development, structure and stability, and their adaptation to external influences. Observers can thus locate themselves outside the systems studied, and seek generalisations and principles affording a natural reduction of complexity. At the other pole, we find analysts grappling with historically contingent situations resulting from intersecting processes, in which boundaries and categories are problematic, levels and scales are not clearly separable, and structures are subject to restructuring. Differentiation and change, not adaptation or equilibrium, characterises these situations of "unruly complexity." Control and generalisation are difficult and no privileged standpoint exists; in fact, the boundary between scientist and engaged participant can hardly be maintained. I want to reinforce and stimulate interest in work on complexity that moves us towards the second pole. The spirit of the Santa Fe Institute seems to pull in the other direction. Is that so? Is that OK?

"What's (not) in the mind of scientific agents?: Implicit psychological models and social theory in the social studies of science"

When describing how scientists secure support for their scientific theories, Latour and Callon (L&C);use the semiotic label actants for human, other living beings, and non-living things alike. The playfulness of the resulting anthropomorphic accounts seems to animate the discussion of the non-human resources, but in practice the accounts reduce everything to a lowest common denominator, dulling the analysis of human purposes, motivations, imagination and action. Beginning with L&C's work, I examine the implicit models of the psychology of scientists that prevail in the social studies of science (SSS) and conclude that SSS's scientific agents tend to be those who act with a minimal psychology, almost without mental representations. This ensures that inborn dispositions, cognitive constraints, individual creativity, and so on, cannot determine action and belief, thus preempting those who invoke the internal cognizing mind to resist the social construction of science. Psychology of agents is, in turn, an arena in which to argue about social causality, about the structuredness of society and the role of agents in its re/production. L&C's;behaviorism, for example, leaves no place for interests or other external influence to reside inside the scientist's head, and thus counters earlier analyses that allows social context or forces to determine their beliefs or actions.
This essay does not, however, claim to establish tight connections of different SSS methods to models of the psychology of agents and to social theory. Instead, connections among the three areas are proposed in a heuristic spirit. Thinking about each of the three areas is animated by the attempt to draw connections to the other two. At the same time, because the resulting propositions will not refer to all the details of any particular SSS method, they are made in the expectation of provoking responses from the methods' proponents. Through these responses more of the diverse conceptual and practical resources that different SSSers employ would be revealed. I finish by interpreting my own method in light of a model of agents as imaginative, heterogeneous constructors. This model of distributed psychology and social causality constitutes an alternative to both contextual determination and autonomous agency, and deserves more attention.

"Apparent interactions in community models"

Over the last decade community ecologists have become concerned about "indirect interactions": Do the effects mediated through the populations not immediately in focus, or, more generally, through "hidden variables," confound any principles or results derived on the basis of observing the direct interactions among populations? In this paper I introduce a puzzling anomaly whose resolution speaks to this question and to the meaning of models of sub-communities elevated from the ecological complexity in which they are embedded. "Apparent interactions" (the term I use for the sum of direct interactions within the sub-community and indirect interactions from hidden variables) are troubling in ecology because the hidden variables have dynamics of their own; controlling them is not a relevant strategy for understanding naturally variable and complex ecological situations. Apparent interactions ought also to trouble philosphers studying scientists' strategies of using heuristics, of model building, decomposition and localisation, and reduction.