Island Biogeography, Species-Area Curves, and Statistical Errors: Applied Biology and Scientific Rationality

When Kangas suggested in 1986 that wildlife reserve designs could be much smaller than previously thought, community ecologists attacked his views on methodological grounds (island biogeographical theory is beset with uncertainties) and on conservation grounds (Kangas seemed to encourage deforestation and extinction). Kangas' defenders, like Simberloff, argued that in a situation of biological uncertainty (the degree/type of deforestation-induced extinction), scientists ought to follow the epistemologically conservative course and risk type-II error (the risk of not rejecting a null hypothesis that is false), rather than type-I error. (This is the risk of rejecting a null hypothesis that is true). Kangas' opponents, like Noss, argued that, in a situation of scientific uncertainty, scientists ought to risk type-I, rather than type-II, error. This essay argues that there are different types of rationality appropriate to science and applied science and, therefore, in cases of applied science (like conservation biology), the more conservative course of action is for scientists to risk type-I error. The essay argues further that, on grounds of scientific rationality, Kangas, Simberloff, and others were correct in risking type-II error, but that, on grounds of decision-theoretic rationality, Noss, Waide, and others were correct in risking type-I error.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 48,902
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Occam’s Razor in Science: A Case Study From Biogeography.A. Baker - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):193-215.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Philosophy of the Environmental Sciences.Jay Odenbaugh - 2010 - In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 155--171.
Economic (Ir)Rationality in Risk Analysis.Sven Ove Hansson - 2006 - Economics and Philosophy 22 (2):231-241.
Inductive Risk and Values in Science.Heather Douglas - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (4):559-579.
Antibiotic Resistance Due to Modern Agricultural Practices: An Ethical Perspective. [REVIEW]Joan Duckenfield - 2013 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 26 (2):333-350.
Why Science Cannot Be Value-Free.Agnieszka Lekka-Kowalik - 2010 - Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (1):33-41.
Of Nulls and Norms.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:280 - 290.


Added to PP index

Total views
18 ( #522,933 of 2,309,716 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #758,532 of 2,309,716 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature