Gillian Barker 2017-09-15T10:12:03+00:00

Project Description

RESEARCH AREAS:

  • Philosophy of Science

  • Philosophy of Biology

  • Environmental Philosophy

CONTACT:

GILLIAN ABERNATHY BARKER

Assistant Professor;
Department of Philosophy, Western University

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.

Gillian Barker has research interests in general epistemology of science, in philosophy of biology and environmental philosophy, and in philosophical questions concerning the governance of science, the use of science in governmental policy, and the broader relationship between science and values. Her recent research has focused on complex adaptive systems at different levels of organization, and how science can best grapple with their distinctive features in investigating human immunology, ecological and psychological resilience, evolutionary dynamics, and what evolved human nature can teach us about the prospects for social change. Her current research applies similar ideas to the problems of understanding and managing the interconnected global-scale processes upon which human societies depend:”geofunctions.” This research connects recent developments in climate science, ecology, agricultural science, and hydrology, and involves extensive collaboration across academic disciplines and with non-academic expert practitioners.

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

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

Books:

Barker, G.A. Beyond Biofatalism: Human Nature for an Evolving World. Columbia University Press (Forthcoming September 25, 2015).

Barker, G.A.; Desjardins, E.; and Pearce, T., eds. Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences. Springer (2014).

Barker, G.A. and Kitcher, P.S. Philosophy of Science: A New Introduction. Oxford University Press (2013).

Articles and Book Chapters:

E. Desjardins, G. Barker, C. Dieleman, A. Dussault, and Z. Lindo: “Promoting Resilience.” Quarterly Review of Biology, (Forthcoming June 2015).

Barker, G.A. and Odling-Smee, J. “Integrating Ecology and Evolution: Niche Construction and Ecological Engineering.” In Barker et al. (eds.), Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences, Springer (2014), 187-211.

Desjardins, E.; Barker, G.A. and Madrenas, J. “Thinking Outside the Mouse: Organism-Environment Interaction and Human Immunology.” In Barker et al. (eds.), Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences, Springer (2014), 167-183.

Barker, G.A.: “Biological Levers and Extended Adaptationism.” Biology and Philosophy 23.1 (2008): 1-25.

Barker, G.A., Derr, P., and Thompson, N.S.: “The Perils of Confusing Nesting with Chaining in Psychological Explanations,” Behavior and Philosophy 32.2 (2004): 293-303.

Barker, G.A: “Models of Biological Change: Implications of Three Recent Cases of ‘Lamarckian’ Change.” Perspectives in Ethology 10. Ed. P.P.G. Bateson, P.H. Klopfer and N.S. Thompson. New York: Plenum Press, 1993. 229-248.

Articles in Progress:

Barker, G. A.: “From Stability to Resilience: Lessons for Development from Ecology” (Under Review: Phenomenology & the Cognitive Sciences)

Barker, G.A.: “Moving the Goalposts: Re-Imagining How to Resolve the Functions Debate.” (Under Review: Synthese)

S.M. Meyers, J. O’Mahony, J., Barker, G. and Kerfoot, S. “Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis 101: Bridging the Gap Between Human and Animal Multiple Sclerosis Researchers”. (Submitted)

Invited Talks:

“Understanding Resilience and Ecological Function” Concordia University, Department of Philosophy, October 31, 2013

“Evolution, Gender and Human Possibilities: Lessons from Ecology and Development” Wilfrid Laurier University, Department of Philosophy, 2010.

Keynote Address at Diotima Graduate Conference, The University of Western Ontario, 2010

“Naturalism and the Organism-Artifact Analogy in the Functions Debate” UC Irvine, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, 2008
The University of Western Ontario, 2008

“Naturalism in Biology.”
Kansas State University. Symposium: Naturalism in Science: Necessity or Bias? 2008.

“Towards a Unified Account of Function.”
Simon Fraser University, Department of Philosophy, 1999.
University of British Columbia, Department of Philosophy, 1999.

“Scientific Relativism and Objectivism: The Debate in Context.”
Northwestern University, Department of Philosophy, 1998.

“What Analogies and Ideal Models Can Tell Us about Induction.”
Indiana University, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, 1997.

“Deriving an ‘Is’ from an ‘Ought’: Moral Issues in the Debate over Cognitive Relativism.”
Indiana University, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, 1996.

“Abstraction, Analogy and Induction.”
Cornell University, Department of Science & Technology Studies, 1994.

Conference Presentations:

“Resilience and Ecological Function” International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, Montpellier, 2013.

“Resilience: Stability, Adaptation and Transformation in Ecology and Psychology” On the Future of Development: Challenges, Insights and New Concepts, Concordia University, 2013.

“Rediscovering the Depths?: Philosophy and the Environment after the 20th Century” Underground Ecocriticism, Western University, 2012.

“Thinking Outside the Mouse: Human Immunology, Animal Models and Organism-Environment Interaction” (in collaboration with Eric Desjardins) Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, 2012.

“Uncertainty, Resilience and Robustness in Adaptive Ecological Management” (in collaboration with Eric Desjardins and Spencer Hey) New Sciences, New Risks, University of Pittsburgh, 2012.

“Thinking Ecologically” SPARK!, The University of Western Ontario, 2011.

“Altruism and Biological Leverage” International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, 2011.

“The Return of the Organism:The Role and Fate of some Romantic Themes in Contemporary Evolutionary Biology ” Romanticism and Evolution, 2011

“How Systems Fail: Function, Malfunction, Dysfunction” International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, 2007.

“Feedback Structures, Causal Identity and Natural Teleology.” International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, 2001.

Doctoral Thesis:

Abstraction, Analogy and Induction: Toward a General Account of Ampliative Inference

Western University

  • Introductory: Nature, Ecology and the Future (Environmental Philosophy)
  • Intermediate: Philosophy of Biology, Introduction to Theory of Knowledge, Origins of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophical Issues in Modern Biology, Philosophy of Biology for Biologists
  • Advanced: Philosophy of Molecular Biology (Reading Course), The Neo-Darwinian Synthesis (Reading Course), Empiricism and Values in Logical Positivism (Reading Course), Topics in Philosophy of Science: Naturalism in Science and Philosophy, Topics in Philosophy of Science: Modality, Normativity, Teleology, Intentionality
  • Graduate: Science and Values, Evolutionary Approaches to Ethics and Epistemology, Teleology, Intentionality and Normativity, Survey of Philosophy of Biology

Bucknell University

  • Introductory: Introduction to Logic
  • Intermediate: Analytic Philosophy; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Biology; Ecology, Nature and the Future (Environmental Philosophy)
  • Advanced: Senior Seminar: Ethics and the Natural World; Senior Seminar: Philosophy of Mind

Simon Fraser University

  • Introductory: Logic and Scientific Reasoning
  • Advanced: Philosophy of Science
  • Graduate: Seminar in Philosophy of Science

Indiana University, Bloomington

  • Introductory: Understanding Scientific Reasoning
  • Advanced: Ethics and the Natural World
  • Graduate: Seminar in Philosophy of Biology; Selective Accounts of Design, Meaning, and Knowledge; Seminar in Philosophy of Science: Inference; Seminar in Philosophy of Biology; Independent Study: Complexity and Functional Explanation