PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Generalizability and Interdependence in Ecological Research

The ability to produce generalizable results is an important yet often unrealizable goal for ecologists. Instead of criticizing ecologists for failing to provide generalizations as extensive as those in other sciences, we should realize that ecological systems are complex and causally heterogeneous. This gives rise to a tradeoff between generalizability and the causal detail present in an ecological investigation. As causal detail is necessary for understanding and predicting ecological phenomena, the level of generality which is both useful and feasible is quite limited. One way to achieve such generalizations is through the identification of common interdependence relationships across ecological systems.

Author Information:

Alkistis Elliott-Graves    
Department of Philosophy
Rotman Institute, University of Western Ontario


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