Ecological kinds and ecological laws

Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1390-1400 (2003)
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Abstract

Ecologists typically invoke "law-like" generalizations, ranging over "structural" and/or "functional" kinds, in order to explain generalizations about "historical" kinds (such as biological taxa)rather than vice versa. This practice is justified, since structural and functional kinds tend to correlate better with important ecological phenomena than do historical kinds. I support these contentions with three recent case studies. In one sense, therefore, ecology is, and should be, more nomothetic, or law-oriented, than idiographic, or historically oriented. This conclusion challenges several recent philosophical claims about the nature of ecological science.

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References found in this work

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4):921-928.
Philosophy and Scientific Realism.J. J. C. Smart - 1965\ - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (60):358-360.
Modeling Nature: Episodes in the History of Population Ecology.Sharon E. Kingsland - 1986 - Journal of the History of Biology 19 (2):313-314.

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