Unruly Complexity is an extended meditation on teaching science. Juxtaposing history, philosophy, memoir, and pedagogy, the book circles around the practice of ecological modeling, coming back from one angle and then another to find better models of reflexive science. Taylor locates his own practice both inside and outside the model, reminding us of the need to simultaneously love and criticize our objects of study.”—Anna Tsing, University of California, Santa Cruz


Unruly Complexity contributes significantly to the society-nature literature not only through its critical attention to scientific practice and engagement with the complexity of social-ecological interaction, but because of its serious and insightful exploration of different approaches to support reflexive environmental analysis. This book is a very useful resource for social and physical scientists alike.”—Matthew Turner, University of Wisconsin


“Taylor’s book describes the ‘unruly complexity’ of ecological interactions and why they defy systems approaches to their understanding. This critique and reconstruction of ways for analysts to engage differently with socio-environmental systems is the sophisticated and carefully wrought product of Taylor’s unique trajectory through a set of experiences and case studies he has worked on and through for decades with rare perseverance and interdisciplinary rigor. This is (of necessity, perhaps) a complex and demanding book; but anyone who tries to model or understand real world ecological systems without contending with their claims and proposals is irresponsible—and also missing an intellectual treat.”—Yaakov Garb, Hebrew University and the Floersheimer Institute for Policy Studies


“Taylor is so bold as to directly challenge the accepted distinction between science, interpretation, and engagement that goes back to the very dawn of modern science.  Drawing on biology, philosophy, and science studies, he shows that systems are not well-bounded, that system dynamics are mutable, that boundaries are permeable, and that decision making—about both the constitution of knowledge and of society— is simultaneously constrained and facilitated by social networks. This volume is a sure remedy for sterile debates between supporters of reductionist and systemic perspectives.”—Lawrence Busch, Michigan State University