I am an Emerit Professor in the Department of Philosophy at UC Davis, retired from teaching but still researching; I am also affiliated with UCD’s Science and Technology Studies (STS) Program. I co-run the UCD PhilBio Lab with Jim Griesemer. I am a AAAS Fellow (elected 2022)
I am a Co-Editor of the peer-reviewed open-access online journal Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology. I am also a Co-Chair of the History and Philosophy of Science section and a member of Council for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pacific Division (AAAS-PD). I am on the editorial boards for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the journal Philosophy of Science.
My research is in the philosophy of science, the history & philosophy of biology, and environmental ethics. I am particularly interested in evolutionary biology, ecology, and environmental issues, and the intersections between them.
With respect to evolutionary biology, I have particularly focused on central processes in evolution such as natural selection, random drift, sexual selection, and social selection, as well as central concepts in evolution such as fitness, population, metapopulation, race, and environment. This has included analysis of the general philosophy of science concepts of chance, probability, causation, causal processes, and determinism/indeterminism, and the ways in which they manifest (or fail to manifest) within evolutionary processes. My conceptual work has been informed by my historical work, which includes analysis of some central 20th century debates in evolutionary biology, such as the neutral and “nearly neutral” theories of evolution and the empirical study of the land snail Cepaea nemoralis in the wild.
With respect to ecology, I have examined the historical and contemporary connections between ecology and population genetics. As part of a more extensive research project, I have re-interpreted and defended the work of 20th century ecologist (forester, wildlife manager, conservationist) Aldo Leopold, analyzing land communities (roughly similar to biotic communities/ecosystems), interdependence, functions/functioning, and predator/prey dynamics. Inasmuch as these ideas arise in the context of Leopold’s land ethic, this project is also a project in environmental ethics. I am currently working on a book length analysis and defense of the land ethic, tentatively titled The Land Is Our Community: A Land Ethic for the New Millennium. Other work in environmental ethics examines the implications of the environmental impacts of GMOs and argues for how we ought to think of the field of environmental ethics.
Find my website here.