Author Archives: Peter J. Taylor

About Peter J. Taylor

Peter Taylor teaches and directs programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context as well as innovation in teaching, group process, and interdisciplinary collaboration (see He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (

Now It Is Impossible ‘Simply To Continue Along Previous Lines’: A Partial Design Sketch of Enactable Social Theorizing

Working Paper:
Abstract: A compilation of 39 notes provides the basis for two shifts: from shaping a better social theory to allowing for social theorizing; and from representing social dynamics to enacting the social theorizing so as to repeatedly define and pursue engagements in the heterogeneous dynamics that intersect in all kinds of society-making. A key move is to bring the multiple strandedness of changing social life into the center by combining, on one hand, the analysis of intersecting processes, which link across scales in the production of any outcome and in their own on-going transformation, and, on the other hand, a participatory group process, the historical scan, to generate a repeatable group-specific praxis.
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His nature, her nurture-or what good are conceptual critiques for tackling practical concerns about the development of gendered individuals?

This [draft] article identifies five conceptually distinct nature-nurture sciences, which address: variation among varieties and locations in an observable trait; variation in trait in relation to measurable factors; differences between group averages; changeability of individual development; and adaptiveness of trait. I articulate the gaps between them and tease out the difficulties in bridging between them.
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Living in History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology

In 1984 Michael Bradie, one of a series of philosophers of science who took sabbaticals at Richard Lewontin’s lab where I was working on my Ph.D. in ecology, encouraged me to attend the next meetings of what was then HPSSB. At St. Mary’s in 1985 I gave my first history of science talk (on H.T. Odum) and was excited to hang out with people who were attracted to—or, at least, comfortable with—crossing boundaries among history, philosophy, sociology, and biology. These meetings gave me confidence—and foolhardiness—to pursue a career path that has not respected disciplinary boundaries. I became a regular IS/HPSSB participant and began to organize sessions that fostered the discipline-transgressing qualities I valued. This series of blog posts provides some pre-history to this conjunction of planets and then sketches where it led.
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Update on “Alternation between complexities of situation studied and the situation of the studier: A series of writing projects”

I provide an update on the ambitious writing plan I formulated during a workshop in October 2016 and posted in February 2017. The “alternation” referred to in the title of the posts concerns the insufficiency of critical accounts of science—its concepts or its practice—without also exploring how people come together to make changes in the lives and work, including work in and about science.
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What to do if we think that researchers have overlooked a significant issue?

Abstract of a manuscript (updated 3 Dec 18). Comments welcome—email me for the full draft.

Participants in debates about developments in science and technology point to issues overlooked or downplayed by scientists—or, if the debate is among scientists themselves, by other scientists. Sometimes included among participants in debates are interpreters of science—sociologists, historians, philosophers, and scholars from other fields of Science and Technology Studies. Taking these scholars as the audience, this article asks what should we do if we identify a significant issue not yet subject to debate?
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Critical Epidemiological Literacy

Taylor, P. J. “Critical Epidemiological Literacy: Understanding Ideas Better When Placed in Relation to Alternatives,” Synthese, in press, DOI: 10.1007/s11229-018-01960-6.
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Changing Science in Heterogeneous Environments

Levins’ career was a series of explorations of complexity in many and diverse settings. One aspect of complexity, heterogeneity, is explored through two vignettes (about heritability and differences among means), a taxonomy of eleven kinds of heterogeneity, and a contention connecting heterogeneity, control of populations, and possibilities for participation.

“Changing Science in Heterogeneous Environments,” pp. 87-101 in T. Awerbuch, M. Clark, P. Taylor (eds.), The Truth is the Whole: Essays in Honor of Richard Levins, Arlington MA: The Pumping Station, 2018.