Message in the Bottle: The Constraints of Experimentation on Model Building

Philosophy of Science 73 (5):720-729 (2006)
Abstract
Some ecologists have argued that theoretical model building in population and community ecology has gone evidentially unconstrained. In the essay, I argue that "bottle experiments" offer ecological model building evidential constraints and illustrate this by considering work on chaotic models tested by the dynamics of flour beetles. Critics reply that these experiments are importantly unlike nonmanipulated natural systems and thus do not constitute genuine tests of the models. I conclude by considering two responses to this worry and a suggestion on how to move forward on this debate.
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