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The Philosophy Of Ecology: From Science To Synthesis

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The philosophy of ecology : from science to synthesis

Most of the sources in this section provide entry points into a heterogeneous selection of topics, addressed from the point of view either of philosophers of science (informed by the history of ecology) or ecologists concerned with clarifying and advancing the theoretical status of the field. The latter emphasis is evident in (first published in 1994), a systematic exposition of the integration of across disciplinary boundaries and levels of organization; the special edition of the journal Synthese reprinted as ; and the rich history of ecological conceptualizing surveyed in and . These works temper a recurrent early 21st century theme to the effect that ecology was slow to become established as an area of philosophical interest. That theme may reflect what has been published or read by philosophers of science more than it does a shortage of philosophical or conceptual analyses of ecology.

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Ecological philosophy does not have a single meaning. To some social thinkers it signifies a worldview that invokes ecology in promoting environmental protection; to others ecology is invoked in relation to a wider realm of social action; to philosophers of science, ecological philosophy may seem to be a synonym for the part of their academic field that focuses on ecology. For this entry in a bibliography on ecology, however, the term is taken to refer to conceptual frameworks in ecological and environmental science and as such combines theorizing in ecology with some contributions from the philosophy of ecology. Concepts and theorizing in ecology can be viewed in relation to the challenge faced by all ecologists (which within this article will include environmental scientists) of dealing with the complexity of ongoing change in the structure of situations that have built up over time from heterogeneous components and are embedded or situated within wider dynamics. Eleven “impulses” regarding the conceptualization of such complexity are reviewed here, arranged roughly in order of when they emerged or were emphasized, with references chosen to provide points of entry into the subsequent history rather than the most recent contributions on a given issue. The categorization of impulses is intended to stimulate readers with an interest in ecology to review their own conceptual framework so as to identify gaps or oversights and to be more self-conscious about how they address (or deflect) conceptual challenges in the field. The categorization might also serve to stimulate critical reflection in subfields of ecology and other disciplines beyond those covered in the article as well as in areas where ecological philosophy is given a different meaning. For example, suppose a philosopher of ethics describes interactions among moral agents in terms of analogies to predation, parasitism, and symbiosis, and advocates sustainable management of those interactions. Following (the ninth impulse below), one could ask how that ethical theory would be affected if one considers changes in the hidden nonmoral variables and the embeddedness of the interactions in wider social dynamics.

of ecology: From science to synthesis.

Keller, David R., and Frank B. Golley, eds. 2000. The philosophy of ecology: From science to synthesis. Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia Press.

All animals are either predators or prey and, in most cases, they are both. The interactions involved in attempting to eat and avoid being eaten have strong and wide-reaching influences across all facets of ecology, from behavioral, population, and community interactions to how we attempt to manage and conserve the natural world. As in many subfields of ecology, the science behind predator-prey investigations has been driven by theory, including important advances in generating and testing predictions. This article highlights the breadth of influence that predator-prey interactions have on ecology. The sections that follow address traditional effects of predator-prey interactions, such as those at the individual/behavioral level, as well as their effects on population dynamics and community composition. At the individual level, the predator-prey interaction will be arranged in two perspectives: those of the predator and those of the prey. The article also considers the less typical and more integrative aspects of predator-prey interactions, such as their physiological and neurological mechanisms and their relevance for questions associated with conservation. In addition, this article will consider the validity of including parasitism and herbivory within the broad definition of predation. A great deal of debate is ongoing as to whether these two ecological interactions possess similar enough qualities with predation to be characterized as one phenomenon. Those sections of this article will cover this debate and provide the reader with resources with which to consider this question.

The Philosophy Of Ecology From Science To Synthesis

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