Can we define ecosystems? On the confusion between definition and description of ecological concepts
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Acta Biotheoretica 55 (4):341-355 (2007)
Sound definitions of its basic concepts are fundamental to every scientific discipline. In some instances, like in the case of the ecosystem concept, the question arises if we can define such concepts at all. And if we can define them, how should we choose from the multiple definitions available? And what are the preconditions for a scientifically sound and useful definition? On the basis of the ecosystem concept, this paper illustrates a major, often neglected distinction in the definition of ecological concepts, namely that between defining criteria and additional descriptive statements connected to those definitions. As is demonstrated by examples from the literature, mixing up these categories leads to false inferences about the properties of physical objects (e.g. a particular forest) subsumed by the concept (e.g. the ecosystem). As a further consequence, this inference becomes problematic in terms of theory development and/or the application of ecological concepts for management decisions.
|Keywords||Philosophy Evolutionary Biology Philosophy of Biology|
|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
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Samantha Miles (2012). Stakeholder: Essentially Contested or Just Confused? [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 108 (3):285-298.
Dr Liane M. Gabora, Dr Eleanor Rosch & Dr Diederik Aerts (forthcoming). Toward an Ecological Theory of Concepts. Philosophical Explorations.
Fikret Berkes, Carl Folke & Johan Colding (eds.) (1998). Linking Social and Ecological Systems: Management Practices and Social Mechanisms for Building Resilience. Cambridge University Press.
James Justus (2008). Ecological and Lyapunov Stability. Philosophy of Science 75 (4):421-436.
Joan Weiner (2007). What's in a Numeral? Frege's Answer. Mind 116 (463):677 - 716.
B. S. Niven (1982). Formalization of the Basic Concepts of Animal Ecology. Erkenntnis 17 (3):307 - 320.
Ulrich Heink, Robert Bartz & Ingo Kowarik (2012). How Useful Are the Concepts of Familiarity, Biological Integrity, and Ecosystem Health for Evaluating Damages by GM Crops? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 25 (1):3-17.
Michael A. Smith (1986). Peacocke on Red and Red. Synthese 68 (September):559-576.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads33 ( #82,734 of 1,700,362 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #128,702 of 1,700,362 )
How can I increase my downloads?