Article ID: CBB589271103

Science and Sentiment: Grinnell’s Fact-Based Philosophy of Biodiversity Conservation (2018)


At the beginning of the twentieth century, the biologist Joseph Grinnell made a distinction between science and sentiment for producing fact-based generalizations on how to conserve biodiversity. We are inspired by Grinnellian science, which successfully produced a century-long impact on studying and conserving biodiversity that runs orthogonal to some familiar philosophical distinctions such as fact versus value, emotion versus reason and basic versus applied science. According to Grinnell, unlike sentiment-based generalizations, a fact-based generalization traces its diverse commitments and thus becomes tractable for its audience. We argue that foregrounding tractability better explains Grinnell’s practice in the context of his time as well as in the context of current discourse among scientists over the political “biases” of biodiversity research and its problem of “reproducibility.”

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Authors & Contributors
Griesemer, James R.
Carruthers, Jane
Heise, Ursula K.
Ayres, Peter G.
van der Valk, Arnold G.
Sarkar, Sahotra
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Biology and Philosophy
PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Berkeley
University of California Press
Biological diversity; biodiversity
Conservation biology
Environmental sciences
Extinction (biology)
Tansley, Arthur George
Grinnell, Joseph
Wright, Sewall
Weismann, August
Clements, Frederic Edward
Huxley, Julian Sorell
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
19th century
21st century
South Africa
Great Britain
Eastern Europe
British Ecological Society

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