What isn't wrong with ecosystem ecology

Jay Odenbaugh
Lewis & Clark College
Philosophers of the life sciences have devoted considerably more attention to evolutionary theory and genetics than to the various sub-disciplines of ecology, but recent work in the philosophy of ecology suggests reflects a growing interest in this area (Cooper 2003; Ginzburg and Colyvan 2004). However, philosophers of biology and ecology have focused almost entirely on conceptual and methodological issues in population and community ecology; conspicuously absent are foundational investigations in ecosystem ecology. This situation is regrettable. Ecosystem concepts play a central role in many branches of theoretical and applied ecology, and in environmental literature generally. Indeed, for some historians, the division of ecological theory into population-community and ecosystem research traditions, and the methodological and conceptual debates that have arisen between workers in these respective camps, is the distinguishing feature of 20th century ecological science (Hagen 1992). These include debates over, among others: reductionistic vs. holistic research methodologies; the existence and metaphysics of ecological “kinds”; the relationship between evolutionary mechanisms and ecosystem phenomena; and the nature and scope of ecological science and its relationship to other branches of natural and social science. Philosophers of ecology have written on all these topics, but almost exclusively from the theoretical perspective of population, community or evolutionary ecology. Philosophical attention to these issues from the perspective of ecosystem ecology is long overdue. It would be misleading to assert that philosophers in general have ignored ecosystem ecology. Environmental philosophers, including environmental ethicists so-called “radical” environmental philosophers (deep ecologists, social ecologists, ecofeminists, etc.), and policy theorists, have had a long-standing interest in ecosystem ecology (e.g. Callicott 1986; Cahen 1988; Warren and Cheney 1993; Westra 1994; Sagoff 1997; Fitzsimmons 1999)..
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Molecular Ecosystems.Marco J. Nathan - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):101-122.

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