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A growing group of scientists and activists is calling for a “paradigm shift” in our thinking about the threat of climate change and how best to respond to it—a shift to an ecological approach that emphasizes the role of living systems. What do they mean? Are they right?


Gillian Barker is a philosopher of science with interdisciplinary training in the philosophy, history, and social studies of science from the University of Toronto and the University of California, San Diego. Gillian’s dissertation research investigated how scientists move from data about particular instances to knowledge about general patterns in the world, looking at the use of idealized models, analogies and metaphors in achieving this transition. She continues to work on questions about the origin and role of the conceptual models that shape scientific thought. She has written on the implications of naturalism—thinking scientifically about philosophical issues—for our understanding of functions, goals, purposes and meanings, and for our conceptions of ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ both in ethics and in the broader sense. Her current work focuses on how organisms actively control aspects of their own environments, including other organisms, and what this implies for our understanding of their evolution and behavior.

For more information on Gillian Barker’s research and publications, please see her research website.