A return to common-sense: why ecology needs transcendental realism

Journal of Critical Realism 18 (1):31-44 (2019)
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Abstract

ABSTRACTEmpirical realist ecologists, such as C. S. Holling, face significant methodological contradictions; for instance, they must cope with the problem that ecological models and theories of climate change, resilience and succession cannot make predictions in open systems. Generally, they respond to this problem by supplementing their empirical realism with transcendental idealism: they therefore say that their models are simply metaphorical or heuristic, that is, 'not true' in that they are not empirical. Thus, they explicitly deny an ontology for what their models are about. Nevertheless, in their practice, ecologists act as if their theories do have an ontology and thus tell us something truthful about the real world. This discrepancy leaves ecology vulnerable to unnecessary critique, such as that climate science is not real science. Transcendental realism offers a solution because it releases ecologists from the requirement to make predictions; but it does so without denying ontology. This provides several advantages to ecologists.

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Leigh Price
Rhodes University

Citations of this work

The Possibility of Deep Naturalism: A Philosophy for Ecology.Leigh Price - 2019 - Journal of Critical Realism 18 (4):352-367.

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