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Karen Kovaka
University of Pennsylvania
  1. Rational Social and Political Polarization.Daniel J. Singer, Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Jiin Jung, Karen Kovaka, Anika Ranginani & William J. Berger - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2243-2267.
    Public discussions of political and social issues are often characterized by deep and persistent polarization. In social psychology, it’s standard to treat belief polarization as the product of epistemic irrationality. In contrast, we argue that the persistent disagreement that grounds political and social polarization can be produced by epistemically rational agents, when those agents have limited cognitive resources. Using an agent-based model of group deliberation, we show that groups of deliberating agents using coherence-based strategies for managing their limited resources tend (...)
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  2.  96
    Climate Change Denial and Beliefs About Science.Karen Kovaka - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2355-2374.
    Social scientists have offered a number of explanations for why Americans commonly deny that human-caused climate change is real. In this paper, I argue that these explanations neglect an important group of climate change deniers: those who say they are on the side of science while also rejecting what they know most climate scientists accept. I then develop a “nature of science” hypothesis that does account for this group of deniers. According to this hypothesis, people have serious misconceptions about what (...)
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  3.  66
    Biological Individuality and Scientific Practice.Karen Kovaka - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1092-1103.
    I consider the relationship between scientific practice and the philosophical debate surrounding biological individuality. I argue for the sensitivity account, on which biologists do not require a resolution to the individuality debate. This view puts me in disagreement with much of the literature on biological individuality, where it has become common to claim that there is a relationship of dependence between biologists’ conceptions of individuality and the quality of their empirical work.
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  4.  51
    Underdetermination and Evidence in the Developmental Plasticity Debate.Karen Kovaka - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):127-152.
    I identify a controversial hypothesis in evolutionary biology called the plasticity-first hypothesis. I argue that the plasticity-first hypothesis is underdetermined and that the most popular means of studying the plasticity-first hypothesis are insufficient to confirm or disconfirm it. I offer a strategy for overcoming this problem. Researchers need to develop a richer middle range theory of plasticity-first evolution that allows them to identify distinctive empirical traces of the hypothesis. They can then use those traces to discriminate between rival explanations of (...)
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  5.  26
    Correction To: Rational Social and Political Polarization.Daniel J. Singer, Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Jiin Jung, Karen Kovaka, Anika Ranginani & William J. Berger - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2269-2269.
    In the original publication of the article, the Acknowledgement section was inadvertently not included. The Acknowledgement is given in this Correction.
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  6. A Multidisciplinary Understanding of Polarization.Jiin Jung, Patrick Grim, Daniel J. Singer, Aaron Bramson, William J. Berger, Bennett Holman & Karen Kovaka - 2019 - American Psychologist 74:301-314.
    This article aims to describe the last 10 years of the collaborative scientific endeavors on polarization in particular and collective problem-solving in general by our multidisciplinary research team. We describe the team’s disciplinary composition—social psychology, political science, social philosophy/epistemology, and complex systems science— highlighting the shared and unique skill sets of our group members and how each discipline contributes to studying polarization and collective problem-solving. With an eye to the literature on team dynamics, we describe team logistics and processes that (...)
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  7.  18
    Agriculture Increases Individual Fitness.Karen Kovaka, Carlos Santana, Raj Patel, Erol Akçay & Michael Weisberg - 2016 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39.
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    Correction to: Fighting About Frequency.Karen Kovaka - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3):7799-7799.
    A correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-021-03194-5.
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  9.  11
    Different Research Projects Require Their Own Individuality Concepts.Karen Kovaka - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 61:50-53.
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    Evolutionary Theory: Conceptual Controversies and Pluralism: Philippe Huneman and Denis M. Walsh : Challenging the Modern Synthesis: Adaptation, Development, and Inheritance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017, Ix+353pp, $74 HB. [REVIEW]Karen Kovaka - 2019 - Metascience 28 (2):289-291.
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    Fighting About Frequency.Karen Kovaka - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7777-7797.
    Scientific disputes about how often different processes or patterns occur are relative frequency controversies. These controversies occur across the sciences. In some areas—especially biology—they are even the dominant mode of dispute. Yet they depart from the standard picture of what a scientific controversy is like. In fact, standard philosophical accounts of scientific controversies suggest that relative frequency controversies are irrational or lacking in epistemic value. This is because standard philosophical accounts of scientific controversies often assume that in order to be (...)
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    Mate Choice and Null Models.Karen Kovaka - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (5):1096-1106.
    Biologists have proposed a variety of explanations for extravagant sexual displays, and controversies over explanations define the history of sexual selection research. Recently, Richard Prum has d...
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  13.  51
    Don’T Forget Forgetting: The Social Epistemic Importance of How We Forget.Daniel J. Singer, Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Karen Kovaka, Jiin Jung & William J. Berger - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5373-5394.
    We motivate a picture of social epistemology that sees forgetting as subject to epistemic evaluation. Using computer simulations of a simple agent-based model, we show that how agents forget can have as large an impact on group epistemic outcomes as how they share information. But, how we forget, unlike how we form beliefs, isn’t typically taken to be the sort of thing that can be epistemically rational or justified. We consider what we take to be the most promising argument for (...)
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  14. Don’T Forget Forgetting: The Social Epistemic Importance of How We Forget.Daniel J. Singer, Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Karen Kovaka, Jiin Jung & William Berger - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5373-5394.
    We motivate a picture of social epistemology that sees forgetting as subject to epistemic evaluation. Using computer simulations of a simple agent-based model, we show that how agents forget can have as large an impact on group epistemic outcomes as how they share information. But, how we forget, unlike how we form beliefs, isn’t typically taken to be the sort of thing that can be epistemically rational or justified. We consider what we take to be the most promising argument for (...)
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