Authors
Samantha Wakil
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Abstract
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 reserves to conserve biodiversity that obviated the need for largely intuitive and highly problematic appeals to ecological theory at the time. But the scientific basis of these achievements and whether they constitute genuine scientific progress has been criticized. We counter by pointing out important inaccuracies about the science and rejecting the apparent theory-first focus. More broadly, the case study reveals significant limitations of the predominant epistemic-semantic conceptions of scientific progress and the considerable merits of pragmatic, practically-oriented accounts.
Keywords scientific progress  Values in science  Conservation biology  Biodiversity  Ecology
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A New Functional Approach to Scientific Progress.Yafeng Shan - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):739-758.

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