Generalizations in ecology: A philosophical taxonomy [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 13 (4):555-586 (1998)
There has been a significant amount of uncertainty and controversy over the prospects for general knowledge in ecology. Environmental decision makers have begun to despair of ecology's capacity to provide anything more than case by case guidance for the shaping of environmental policy. Ecologists themselves have become suspicious of the pursuit of the kind of genuine nomothetic knowledge that appears to be the hallmark of other scientific domains. Finally, philosophers of biology have contributed to this retreat from generality by suggesting that there really are no laws in biology. This paper addresses these issues by providing a framework for thinking about general knowledge claims in ecology. It introduces a philosophical taxonomy that classifies generalizations into three broad categories – phenomenological, causal and theoretical. It then turns to the difficult problem of laws, arguing that, while there are probably no laws as that term has been understood in philosophy of science, it doesn't follow that everything in ecology is equally contingent. A mechanism for recognizing degrees of contingency in ecological generalizations is developed. The paper concludes by examining the implications of the analysis for the controversies noted at the outset.
|Keywords||biological law causal structure data-driven science ecological generalization model-driven science statistical pattern theoretical model|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Jani Raerinne (2013). Stability and Lawlikeness. Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):833-851.
Similar books and articles
Mark Colyvan, William Grey, Paul E. Griffiths, Jay Odenbaugh & Stefan Linquist, Philosophical Issues in Ecology: Recent Trends and Future Directions.
Frank B. Golley (1987). Deep Ecology From the Perspective of Environmental Science. Environmental Ethics 9 (1):45-55.
Mark Colyvan, William Grey, Jay Odenbaugh & Stefan Linquist, A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Ecology.
Gregory M. Mikkelson (2003). Ecological Kinds and Ecological Laws. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1390-1400.
Yrjö Haila & Peter Taylor (2001). The Philosophical Dullness of Classical Ecology, and a Levinsian Alternative. Biology and Philosophy 16 (1):93-102.
Gregory John Cooper (2003). The Science of the Struggle for Existence: On the Foundations of Ecology. Cambridge University Press.
Jani Raerinne (2011). Causal and Mechanistic Explanations in Ecology. Acta Biotheoretica 59 (3):251-271.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads15 ( #126,775 of 1,692,523 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #181,267 of 1,692,523 )
How can I increase my downloads?