Sahotra Sarkar

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Sahotra Sarkar
Sahotra Sarkar.jpg
Born1962 (age 60–61)
Alma materColumbia University
University of Chicago
Scientific career
FieldsConservation biology
InstitutionsMcGill University
University of Texas at Austin

Sahotra Sarkar (born 1962) is an Indian-American professor at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in the philosophy of biology.

Education and career[edit]

Sarkar is originally from India where he lived in Darjeeling until 1975.[1] He earned a BA from Columbia University, where he won a Van Amringe Mathematical Prize,[2] and a MA and PhD from the University of Chicago where he worked with William_C._Wimsatt. He was a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (1996–1997), the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology (1993–1994), and the Edelstein Centre for the Philosophy of Science (1992). He was a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (1997–1998, 2002–2003) and taught at Montreal's McGill University before moving to Texas.

Philosophical and scientific Work[edit]

Sarkar is one of the founders of systematic conservation planning within conservation biology,[3] promoting the use of multi-criteria decision analysis and supervising the creation of the ConsNet decision support system.[4] In this context he has advocated participatory environmental planning and strongly criticized the imposition of authoritarian and discriminatory environmental policies on local residents.[5] His laboratory also works on a suite of neglected tropical diseases (or diseases of poverty) including Chagas disease,[6] dengue,[7] leishmaniasis,[8] and tick-borne diseases.[9][10]

In the philosophy of biology, Sarkar is known for his work on reductionism[11] and criticism of hereditarian thinking in biology[12] as well as the use of informational concepts in molecular biology.[13] In the philosophy of physics Sarkar is known for controversially defending the conventionalism of simultaneity in special relativity (with John Stachel)[14] and suggesting a stochastic modification of quantum dynamics.[15] Earlier in his career he worked in mathematical population genetics where, in collaboration with Wing Ma and Guido Sandri, he was responsible for the standard recursion relation to compute the Luria–Delbrück distribution in bacterial genetics.[16][17]

Sarkar is also a noted critic of creationism and intelligent design[18][19] and played an important role in combating attempts to introduce creationism into high school curricula in Texas.[20][21]

Allegations of sexual misconduct[edit]

In 2017, Sahotra Sarkar was suspended for a semester after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with students. Although he denied some of the allegations, he admitted to discussing the possibility of one student posing for nude photographs for money.[22][23] In November 2019, a group of students interrupted a class Sarkar was teaching in order to protest his continued presence at the university.[24]


  • Sahotra Sarkar, Genetics and Reductionism (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology). Cambridge University Press (October 13, 1998) ISBN 0-521-63713-9
  • Sahotra Sarkar, Molecular Models of Life: Philosophical Papers on Molecular Biology (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology). The MIT Press (March 30, 2007) ISBN 0-262-69350-X
  • Sahotra Sarkar, Biodiversity and Environmental Philosophy: An Introduction (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology). Cambridge University Press (September 19, 2005) ISBN 0-521-85132-7
  • Sahotra Sarkar, Doubting Darwin: Creationist Designs on Evolution. Blackwell (April 20, 2007) ISBN 1-4051-5491-8
  • Sahotra Sarkar, Environmental Philosophy: From Theory to Practice. Wiley-Blackewell (2012)
  • Chris Margules and Sahotra Sarkar, Systematic Conservation Planning (Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation). Cambridge University Press. (October 8, 2007) ISBN 0-521-70344-1
  • Sahotra Sarkar, Ed., Science and Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: Basic Works of Logical Empiricism. 6 Volumes. Routledge (February 1, 1996)
  • Sahotra Sarkar, Ed., Logical Empiricism and the Special Sciences : Reichenbach, Feigl, and Nagel (Science and Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: Basic Works of Logical Empiricism) Routledge; 1 edition (February 1, 1996) ISBN 0-8153-2265-8
  • Sahotra Sarkar and Jessica Pfeifer, Eds., The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia Routledge.(December 9, 2005)
  • Sahotra Sarkar and Anya Plutynksi, Eds., Companion to the Philosophy of Biology (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy). Wiley-Blackwell (March 14, 2008) ISBN 1-4051-2572-1


  1. ^ "Lecture by Sahotra Sarkar". University of North Texas. September 18, 2002. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  2. ^ "Bookshelf | Columbia College Today". Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  3. ^ Caro, T. 2010. Conservation by Proxy: Indicator, Umbrella, Keystone, Flagship, and Other Surrogate Species. 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
  4. ^ Moilanen, A., Wilson, K. A., and Possingham, H. Eds. 2009. Spatial Conservation Prioritization. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Callicott, J. B. and Nelson, M. P. Eds. 2008. The Wilderness Debate Rages On: Continuing the Great New Wilderness Debate.Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
  6. ^ Sarkar, S., Strutz, S., Frank, D. M., Rivaldi, C. –L., Sissel, B., and Sánchez-Cordero, V. 2010. Chagas Disease Risk in Texas. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 4 (10): e836. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000836.
  7. ^ Gardner, L., Fajardo, D., Waller, S. T., Wang, O., and Sarkar, S. 2012. A Predictive Spatial Model to Quantify the Risk of Air-Travel-Associated Dengue Importation into the United States and Europe. Journal of Tropical Medicine 2012: Article ID 103679. DOI: 10.1155/2012/103679.
  8. ^ González, C., Wang, O., Strutz, S., González-Salazar, C., Sánchez-Cordero, V., and Sarkar, S. 2010. Climate Change and Risk of Leishmaniasis in North America: Predictions from Ecological Niche Models of Vector and Reservoir Species. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 4 (1): e585. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000585.
  9. ^ Illoldi-Rangel, P. Rivaldi, C. –L., Sissel, B., Fryxell, R. T., Gordillo-Pérez, G., Rodríguez-Moreno, A., Williamson, P., Montiel-Parra, G., Sánchez-Cordero, V., and Sarkar, S. 2012. Species Distribution Models and Ecological Suitability Analysis for Potential Tick Vectors of Lyme Disease in México. Journal of Tropical Medicine 2012: Article ID 959101. DOI: 10.1155/2012/959101.
  10. ^ Atkinson, S. F., Sarkar, S., Aviña, A., Schuermann, J. A. and Williamson, P. 2012. Modeling Spatial Concordance between Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Disease Incidence and Habitat Probability of Its Vector Dermacentor variabilis (American DogTick). Geospatial Health 7: 91 -100.
  11. ^ Sarkar, S. 1998. Genetics and Reductionism. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  12. ^ Tabery, J. 2014. Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ Sarkar, S. 1996. Biological Information: A Skeptical Look at Some Central Dogmas of Molecular Biology. In Sarkar, S., Ed. The Philosophy and History of Molecular Biology: New Perspectives. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 187 -231.
  14. ^ Sarkar, S. and Stachel, J. 1999. Did Malament Prove the Non-Conventionality of Simultaneity in the Special Theory of Relativity? Philosophy of Science 66: 208 -220.
  15. ^ Sarkar, S. 1997. The Itô Formalism and Stochastic Modifications of Quantum Dynamics. In Cohen, R. S., Horne, M. and Stachel, J. Eds. Experimental Metaphysics: Quantum Mechanical Studies in Honor of Abner Shimony. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 157 -169.
  16. ^ Ma, W. T., Sandri, G. v., and Sarkar, S. 1992. Analysis of the Luria-Delbrück Distribution Using Discrete Convolution Powers. Journal of Applied Probability 29: 255 -267.
  17. ^ Sarkar, S., Ma, W. T., and Sandri, G. v. 1992. On Fluctuation Analysis: A New, Simple and Efficient Method for Computing the Expected Number of Mutants. Genetica 85: 173 -179.
  18. ^ "Fine-Tuned Deception: Say hello to the new stealth creationism". The American Prospect. December 7, 2006. Archived from the original on July 5, 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  19. ^ ""Intelligent Design" Creationism Is An Immoral Fraud". Jewcy. April 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  20. ^ "Group urges no politics, religion in science curriculum". Houston Chronicle. Sep 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  21. ^ "Compiled by Jeremy Egner". Austin American-Statesman. Feb 15, 2002. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  22. ^ Haurwitz, Ralph. "At UT, an inappropriate relationship alters futures, raises questions". Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  23. ^ Ellis, Lindsey. "How a Department Took On the Next Frontier in the #MeToo Movement". Retrieved Nov 12, 2018.
  24. ^ Bell, Jeff (21 November 2019). "UT students interrupt class of professor who violated sexual misconduct policies". KVUE. Retrieved 22 November 2019.

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