CRISPR as Niche Construction: an Aristotelian View

CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) is part of a system, noticed in certain bacteria, by which a cell can make changes in strands of DNA. This mechanism appears to be a proto-immune system: it enables a bacterium to recognize Continue reading

Cities as Human Niches: Against the ‘Natural City’

We welcome to the blog Nir Barak, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for the next in our series on Environmental Political Theory.


The city is in some sense our niche; we belong there, and no one can achieve full humanity without it. (Holmes Rolston III[1])

In this post, I want to turn our gaze to cities as the paradigmatic embodiment of niche construction in the Anthropocene. I wish to outline Continue reading

Historicizing the Anthropocene: A Peek at Paris

Historians love questions of dating and chronology, and there are two questions about dating the Anthropocene. First, stratigraphy and other sciences have been searching for physical evidence for when Continue reading

The Ecological Circumstances of the Circumstances of Politics

This is the first in a series of posts on Environmental Political Theory.


With his famous phrase “the circumstances of politics” the philosopher Jeremy Waldron offers an abstract characterization of what politics are at the most basic level. Waldron holds that Continue reading

Video of Ellis Talk and Panel Discussion

THIS POST CONCLUDES OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015))

Continue reading

4 questions about anthroecological theory from a biologist

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015))

As a wildlife biologist I have questions about the ways Ellis’ anthroecology theory is different from the long history of ecological theory that precedes it. In reading Ellis (2015) four questions occur to me for which I could not find an easy answer. Continue reading

Hypothesized Hope

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR ANTHROPOCENE BIOSPHERE PROJECT–A SERIES OF POSTS ON ERLE ELLIS’ ‘ECOLOGY IN AN ANTHROPOGENIC BIOSPHERE‘ (ECOLOGICAL MONOGRAPHS, 85/3 (2015))

In preparation for Erle Ellis’ visit to OU’s campus in April, I’ve spent some time considering topics I hope we can address during his visit. Continue reading

“A Paleolithic Reciprocation Crisis: Symbols, Signals, and Norms”

CITATION:
K. Sterelny. 2014. Biological Theory, vol. 9, pp 65-77.
ON-LINE AVAILABILITY:
ABSTRACT:
Within paleoanthropology, the origin of behavioral modernity is a famous problem. Very large-brained hominins have lived for around half a million years, yet social lives resembling those known from the ethnographic record appeared perhaps 100,000 years ago. Why did it take 400,000 years for humans to start acting like humans? Continue reading

“Beyond DNA: integrating inclusive inheritance into an extended theory of evolution”

CITATION:
E. Danchin et al. 2011. Nature Reviews Genetics, vol. 12, pp. 475-486.
ON-LINE AVAILABILITY:
ABSTRACT:
Many biologists are calling for an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ that would ‘modernize the modern synthesis’ of evolution. Biological information is typically considered as being transmitted across generations by the DNA sequence alone, but accumulating evidence indicates that Continue reading

“The cognitive niche: Coevolution of intelligence, sociality, and language”

CITATION:
Steven Pinker. 2010. PNAS, vol. 107, suppl. 2, pp. 8993–8999.
ON-LINE AVAILABILITY:
ABSTRACT:
Although Darwin insisted that human intelligence could be fully explained by the theory of evolution, the codiscoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, claimed that abstract intelligence was of no use to ancestral humans and could only be explained by Continue reading

Environmental Under-determinism, Part 2

In my post last week I voiced the concern that rejecting the dualist separation between nature and society might lead to an implausible environmental determinism. To put it reductively, if nature and society are not two separate things, but only one thing with two separate names, it seems as if Continue reading

The Dust of Civilization

THIS POST IS PART OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT—SEE THIS DESCRIPTION OF OUR SUBMISSION.

In an earlier post, I emphasized the strong link between the origins of agriculture and the positions of loess (loosely “dust”) regions—arguing in essence that, from dust arises life. If loess bestows habitation and habitability, then loess paved the way for Continue reading

Toward a More-Than-Human Anthropocene

THIS POST IS PART OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT—SEE THIS DESCRIPTION OF OUR SUBMISSION.

By exploring habitability in the Anthropocene, we imply that a human-dominated world can still be a world that supports thriving human populations.  This orientation holds a certain appeal, but it is, I contend, in need of serious interrogation.  Continue reading

Habitability as a commons: Fearing a tragedy of human(ized) nature

THIS POST IS PART OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT—SEE THIS DESCRIPTION OF OUR SUBMISSION.
 

Some of the recent posts have made me think of the famous book written by Elinor Ostrom, “Governing the Commons.” Ostrom looks at the problem of Continue reading

Habitability’s non-inevitability

THIS POST IS PART OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT—SEE THIS DESCRIPTION OF OUR SUBMISSION.
 

A theme that has emerged throughout this blog is that there appears to be a fundamental core to habitability: humans transform the world around them, while being structured by the world. Any account, then, necessitates Continue reading