James Justus

James Justus
Florida State University | FSU · Department of Philosophy

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38
Publications
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1,086
Citations

Publications

Publications (38)
Article
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The niche is allegedly the conceptual bedrock underpinning the most prominent, and some would say most important, theorizing in ecology. We argue this point of view is more aspirational than veridical. Rather than critically dissect existing definitions of the concept, the supposedly significant work it is thought to have done in ecology is our eva...
Article
As a discipline distinct from ecology, conservation biology emerged in the 1980s as a rigorous science focused on protecting biodiversity. Two algorithmic breakthroughs in information processing made this possible: place-prioritization algorithms and geographical information systems. They provided defensible, data-driven methods for designing reser...
Book
Ecology is indispensable to understanding the biological world and addressing the environmental problems humanity faces. Its philosophy has never been more important. In this book, James Justus introduces readers to the philosophically rich issues ecology poses. Besides its crucial role in biological science generally, climate change, biodiversity...
Article
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Perhaps no concept has been thought more important to ecological theorizing than the niche. Without it, technically sophisticated and well-regarded accounts of character displacement, ecological equivalence, limiting similarity, and others would seemingly never have been developed. The niche is also widely considered the centerpiece of the best can...
Article
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Sciences are often categorized as basic or applied. The former focus on explaining processes and generating knowledge; the latter focus on harnessing that knowledge for practical applications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Article
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Pure mathematics can play an indispensable role explaining empirical phenomena if recent accounts of insect evolution are correct. In particular, the prime life cycles of cicadas and the geometric structure of honeycombs are taken to undergird an inference to the best explanation about mathematical entities. Neither example supports this inference...
Article
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Methodological individualism has a long, successful, and controversial track record in the social sciences. Its record in ecology is much shorter but proving as successful and controversial with so-called individual-based models. Distinctions and debates about methodological individualism in social sciences clarify the commitments of this general,...
Article
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The rise of experimental philosophy (x-phi) has placed metaphilosophical questions, particularly those concerning concepts, at the center of philosophical attention. X-phi offers empirically rigorous methods for identifying conceptual content, but what exactly it contributes towards evaluating conceptual content remains unclear. We show how x-phi c...
Article
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The waning popularity of logical empiricism and the supposed discovery of insurmountable technical difficulties led most philosophers to abandon the project to formulate a formal criterion of empirical significance. Such a criterion would delineate claims that observation can confirm or disconfirm from those it cannot. Although early criteria were...
Article
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Voting systems aggregate preferences efficiently and are often used for deciding conservation priorities. Desirable characteristics of voting systems include transitivity, completeness, and Pareto optimality, among others. Voting systems that are common and potentially useful for environmental decision making include simple majority, approval, and...
Chapter
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Ecology endeavors to explain significant portions of the living world. The sophisticated experimental tests and mathematical theories developed to do so deserve much more attention from philosophers of science. This paper describes some of the main contours of the newly emerging field of philosophy of ecology: how an ecological perspective shaped D...
Article
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Robustness concepts are often invoked to manage two obstacles confronting models of ecological systems: complexity and uncertainty. The intuitive idea is that any result derived from many idealized but credible models is thereby made more reliable or is better confirmed. An appropriate basis for this inference has proven elusive. Here, several repr...
Chapter
This chapter considers the long controversy over the best measures and ecological significance of diversity. Species' richness and evenness figure prominently in all these measures, but convincingly combining them to produce a satisfying measure of diversity is still challenging. This discussion develops adequacy criteria for measures of diversity....
Article
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Recent criticisms of intuition from experimental philosophy and elsewhere have helped undermine the authority of traditional conceptual analysis. As the product of more empirically informed philosophical methodology, this result is compelling and philosophically salutary. But the negative critiques rarely suggest a positive alternative. In particul...
Article
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Conservation problems typically involve groups with competing objectives and strategies. Taking effective conservation action requires identifying dependencies between competing strategies and determining which action optimally achieves the appropriate conservation goals given those dependencies. We show how several real-world conservation problems...
Article
This article discusses the appeal to infinite value in environmental decision making. We argue that invoking infinite values as a means of faithfully representing the worth of certain parts of the natural environment is a mistake. Infinite values have a number of theoretical and practical problems associated with them. For example, we show that inv...
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The Cambridge companion to Carnap, edited by Friedman Michael and Creath Richard , Cambridge University Press, 2007, xvii + 371 pp. - Volume 15 Issue 4 - James Justus
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The aim of this section is to give brief indications of the character, content, and cost of new books in the various fields of biology. More books are received by The Quarterly than can be reviewed critically. All submitted books, however, are carefully considered for originality, timeliness, and reader interest, and we make every effort to find a...
Article
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Many conservation biologists believe the best ethical basis for conserving natural entities is their claimed intrinsic value, not their instrumental value for humans. But there is significant confusion about what intrinsic value is and how it could govern conservation decision making. After examining what intrinsic value is supposed to be, we argue...
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Ecologists have proposed several incompatible definitions of ecological stability. Emulating physicists, mathematical ecologists commonly define it as Lyapunov stability. This formalizes the problematic concept by integrating it into a well-developed mathematical theory. The formalization also seems to capture the intuition that ecological stabilit...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods The stability-diversity-complexity (SDC) debate has persisted as a central focus of theoretical ecology for half a century. The debate concerns the deceptively simple question of whether there is a relationship between the complexity and/or diversity of a biological community and its stability. From 1955, when Robert M...
Article
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Systematic conservation planning typically requires specification of quantitative representation targets for biodiversity surrogates such as species, vegetation types, and environmental parameters. Targets are usually specified either as the minimum total area in a conservation-area network in which a surrogate must be present or as the proportion...
Chapter
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Richard Levins has advocated the scientific merits of qualitative modeling throughout his career. He believed an excessive and uncritical focus on emulating the models used by physicists and maximizing quantitative precision was hindering biological theorizing in particular. Greater emphasis on qualitative properties of modeled systems would help c...
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Loop analysis is a method of qualitative modeling anticipated by Sewall Wright and systematically developed by Richard Levins. In Levins’ (1966) distinctions between modeling strategies, loop analysis sacrifices precision for generality and realism. Besides criticizing the clarity of these distinctions, Orzack and Sober (1993) argued qualitative mo...
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Rapid biodiversity assessment and conservation planning require the use of easily quantified and estimated surrogates for biodiversity. Using data sets from Québec and Queensland, we applied four methods to assess the extent to which environmental surrogates can represent biodiversity components: (1) surrogacy graphs; (2) marginal representation pl...
Article
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Explicit, quantitative procedures for identifying biodiversity priority areas are replacing the often ad hoc procedures used in the past to design networks of reserves to conserve biodiversity. This change facilitates more informed choices by policy makers, and thereby makes possible greater satisfaction of conservation goals with increased efficie...
Article
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Bayesian methods have only recently been utilized within phylogenetics (Rannala and Yang 1996; Yang and Rannala 1997; Mau and Newton 1997 were some of the first). Just as there is controversy about specifying prior probabilities ("priors" hereafter) in disciplines where Bayesian methods are common, dispute about the proper specification of priors o...

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