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CEFISES Seminar: Ayelet Shavit, “Meaning and Measure: ‘Diversity’, ‘Heterogeneity’ and ‘Locality’ in Biodiversity Models.”
February 10@10:30-12:30 CET
Speaker: Ayelet Shavit (Tel Hai College and Technion)
Title: “Meaning and Measure: ‘Diversity’,‘Heterogeneity’ and ‘Locality’ in Biodiversity Models.”
The meaning of ‘biodiversity’ is constituted by the concept of difference and its measure within and between biological groups (e.g., populations, species etc.) at one or more localities. The aim of this talk is to investigate the practical meaning and impact of two measures of difference – ‘diversity’ and ‘heterogeneity’ – that are typically assumed synonymous, and two measures of locality – ‘longitude’/’latitude’ and ‘micro-habitat’ – that are typically assumed to match on the same space at the same scale. I expose these “merely technical” measures as upholding different values, tracking different causal interactions, predicting different biological groups and better fitting different perspectives of space. Thus, I argue, a non-trivial epistemic gap emerges from these choices of measurement, and I specify the scientific contexts in which incommensurability, indeterminacy or a trade-off conflict is expected to emerge. In addition, a case study illustrates how a measurement choice results in epistemic and environmental injustice afflicting a minority group and potentially its flagship species. To conclude, noticing measurement differences in biodiversity models is not only theoretically interesting but also ethically important.