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A Critique for Ecology - Robert Henry Peters

A Critique for Ecology

Paperback

Published: 28th October 1991
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This book offers a critique of contemporary ecology, which could be applied to any discipline. Author Peters contends that science is a device to offer information about nature through predictions, but that a substantial part of ecology cannot be science because it provides no concrete information and much of the rest of ecology provides data of such poor quality that it can only be called soft science. Although instances of these deficiencies have often been identified, the pervasiveness of the problem has not been fully acknowledged, nor have the similarities among different problem areas been appreciated. If ecology and environmental science are to grow to meet the needs of the present decade and next millennium, scientists in these fields will need much more acute critical abilities than they have yet demonstrated. Professor Peters argues specifically that a return to simple questions of fact, to observations, and to questions of general relevance to science and society can make ecology a useful, practical, and informative science, which is desperately needed to meet the problems of our age. This thought-provoking and perhaps controversial book will be of particular interest to ecologists, but all scientists, from undergraduates to senior academics and professionals, can benefit from reading it.

'To conclude, despite the hurt feelings this book might engender, it should be read by all ecologists and especially students contemplating a career in ecology. Like it or not Peters scores some good points and we better not ignore them.' Gerard J. Fitzgerald, Ethology, Ecology and Evolution

Prefacep. xi
Crisis in ecologyp. 1
Some preliminary disclaimersp. 2
Ecologists against ecologyp. 4
Sociological evidence against ecologyp. 6
Evidence from the deepening environmental crisisp. 10
Academic ecology poses unanswerable questionsp. 13
Summary--Scientific growth depends on scientific criticismp. 14
Criteriap. 17
By definition and example: logic, science and theoryp. 18
Hypothetico-deductive sciencep. 21
Criteria for judging scientific theoriesp. 26
Summary--A hierarchy of scientific criteriap. 36
Tautologyp. 38
Tautologies and deductive toolsp. 38
The principle of evolution by natural selectionp. 60
Summary--Two tools for two jobsp. 73
Operationalization of terms and conceptsp. 74
Operationalization of conceptsp. 76
Typologies and classificationsp. 80
Conceptual variables--stability and diversityp. 92
Non-operational relationshipsp. 96
Atheoretical conceptsp. 97
Concepts in ecology: the effects of poor examplesp. 100
Summary--The costs of non-operational concepts for ecologyp. 104
Explanatory science: reduction, cause and mechanismp. 105
Prediction and explanation: alternate goals for sciencep. 106
Reductionism: an unattainable goalp. 110
Causalityp. 128
Instrumentalist researchp. 136
Summary--The twin perils of mechanistic and causal explanationsp. 146
Historical explanation and understandingp. 147
Scientific explanation and understandingp. 147
Historical explanations and ecologyp. 154
Legitimate roles for historical understanding in ecologyp. 170
Summary--Explanations in ecologyp. 176
Weak predictionsp. 178
Relevancep. 178
Accuracyp. 189
Imprecise and qualitative predictionsp. 196
Generality and specificityp. 211
Economyp. 216
Appealp. 218
Summary--Practicality and appealp. 219
Checklist of problemsp. 220
The Introductionp. 221
Methodsp. 229
Resultsp. 235
Discussionp. 239
Extensions and hypothesesp. 250
Summary--The challenge of good sciencep. 254
Putting it together--competitionp. 256
The prevalence of competitionp. 257
Operationalizationp. 259
Tautologyp. 263
Historical explanationp. 266
Mechanisms of competitionp. 268
The theoretical status of 'competition theory'p. 270
Summary--The muddles of ecologyp. 273
Predictive ecologyp. 274
Eight classes of model theories in predictive ecologyp. 274
The attractions of predictive ecologyp. 290
Summary--A scientific alternative for ecologyp. 304
Referencesp. 305
Index of names and first authorsp. 345
Subject indexp. 352
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521395885
ISBN-10: 0521395887
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 28th October 1991
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.81 x 15.24  x 2.18
Weight (kg): 0.54