Philosophical Foundations for the Practices of Ecology

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 12, 2009 - Nature - 226 pages
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Ecologists use a remarkable range of methods and techniques to understand complex, inherently variable, and functionally diverse entities and processes across a staggering range of spatial, temporal and interactive scales. These multiple perspectives make ecology very different to the exemplar of science often presented by philosophers. In Philosophical Foundations for the Practices of Ecology, designed for graduate students and researchers, ecology is put into a new philosophical framework that engages with this inherent pluralism while still placing constraints on the ways that we can investigate and understand nature. The authors begin by exploring the sources of variety in the practice of ecology and how these have led to the current conceptual confusion. They argue that the solution is to adopt the approach of constrained perspectivism and go on to explore the ontological, metaphysical, and epistemological aspects of this position and how it can be used in ecological research and teaching.

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About the author (2009)

Bill Reiners has practised ecology for 45 years. His practice has primarily been focused at the ecosystem level, more specifically with biogeochemical phenomena, but he has also been interested in vegetation patterns across landscapes and the nature of disturbance and recovery in vegetation and ecosystems. His teaching and research have taken him to many terrestrial habitats ranging from tropical and temperate rain forests, temperate deciduous and coniferous forests and sagebrush steppe. He has been recognized as an ISI Highly Cited researcher, been recognized with a number of campus-wide awards at the University of Wyoming, and as a distinguished alumnus of Rutgers University.

Jeff Lockwood has practised ecology for 25 years. After studying behavioural ecology (semiochemical communication), he became internationally recognized for his work in grasshopper management, pioneering a method that reduced insecticide use by >50% in the western US. He was among the first to apply complexity science to model the population dynamics of insects. Fascinated by the interface between the natural sciences and humanities, he now enjoys a joint appointment at the University of Wyoming between the department of philosophy and the MFA program in creative writing. His writing has been recognized with a Pushcart Prize and a John Burroughs Award.

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