Seeing the forest and the trees: Realism about communities and ecosystems

Philosophy of Science 74 (5):628-641 (2007)
In this essay I first provide an analysis of various community concepts. Second, I evaluate two of the most serious challenges to the existence of communities—gradient and paleoecological analysis respectively—arguing that, properly understood, neither threatens the existence of communities construed interactively. Finally, I apply the same interactive approach to ecosystem ecology, arguing that ecosystems may exist robustly as well. ‡I would like to thank to the participants at the Ecology and Environmental Ethics Conference at the University of Utah, the Philosophy of Ecology Conference hosted by the University of Brisbane, and those participants in a session at the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia for helpful discussions of this essay. Specific thanks go to Mark Colyvan, Greg Cooper, Steve Downes, Chris Elliott, Marc Ereshefsky, Paul Griffiths, Jesse Hendrikse, Greg Mikkelson, Anya Plutynski, Kate Ritchie, Sahotra Sarkar, Kim Sterelny, and Rob Wilson. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Lewis and Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219; e-mail:
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DOI 10.1086/525609
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Theodore Sider (2003). Against Vague Existence. Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):135 - 146.

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