David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 8 (4):359-384 (1993)
There is a long history of controversy in ecology over the role of competition in determining patterns of distribution and abundance, and over the significance of the mathematical modeling of competitive interactions. This paper examines the controversy. Three kinds of considerations have been involved at one time or another during the history of this debate. There has been dispute about the kinds of regularities ecologists can expect to find, about the significance of evolutionary considerations for ecological inquiry, and about the empirical credentials of theoretical studies of competition. Each of these elements is examined with an eye toward gaining philosophical clarification of the issues involved. In the process, certain shortcomings of contemporary philosophical theories are revealed. In particular, I argue that plausibility arguments based on background considerations are an important part of the model building tradition, but that current accounts of the structure and evaluation of scientific theories do little to illuminate this side of theoretical ecology.
|Keywords||Ecology evolution competition theory testing modeling|
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References found in this work BETA
Nancy Cartwright (1983). How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford University Press.
Wesley Salmon (1984). Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World. Princeton University Press.
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Philip Kitcher & Wesley Salmon (eds.) (1989). Scientific Explanation. Univ of Minnesota Pr.
Citations of this work BETA
Gregory M. Mikkelson (2005). Niche-Based Vs. Neutral Models of Ecological Communities. Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):557-566.
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