Ecological Modeling

Ecological Modeling (FOR 8515)

David Larsen  
Spring Semester, Even Years

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Approaches to Science

  • Inductivism - Scientific theories are derived from the facts of experience acquired by observation and experiment.
    • Opinion and personal preferences speculative imaginings have no place in science.
    • Scientific Knowledge is reliable knowledge because it is objectively proven knowledge.
  • Falsificationism - Theories are construed as speculative and tentative conjectures or guesses freely created by human intellect in an attempt to cover come problems encountered by previous theories and to give an adequate account of the behavior of some aspects of the world or universe (Popper, 1968; Medewar, 1969).
    • Speculative theories are to be rigorously and ruthlessly tested by observation and experiment.
    • Theories that fail must be eliminated and replaced by further speculative conjectures.
  • Theories as Structures - Research Programs - Theories need to be considered as a collection of theories that define and guide future inquiry.
  • Theories as Structures - Kuhn's Paradigms - Kuhn argues that science does not change by incremental improvement but by paradigm shift when individuals view a relationship outside the "normal view" and actually change the normal view of the field (Kuhn, 1970).
  • Rationalism versus Relativism
    • Extreme rationalist assert that there is a single, timeless, universal criterion with reference to which the relative merits of rival theories are to be assessed.
    • Relativists denies that there  is a universal, a historical standard of rationality with respect to which one theory can be judged better than another.  What is better or worse with respect to scientific theories will vary from individual to individual or from community to community.
  • Objectivism - holds that knowledge or items of knowledge have properties and characteristics that transcend the beliefs and states of awareness of the individuals that devise and contemplate them (Popper, 1972).
  • Feyerabend's Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge - Feyerabend makes the case that none of the existing methods of science have been successful. He suggests the most important theories are not related to any formal methods of sciences.
  • Realism - We have scientific theories that are human constructions and that are subject to change  and development.  Also we have the world to which the theories are mean to apply yet the relationships described by the theories are assumed not to change.  What the the relationship of these two domains.

Also See :
Chambers, A. F. 1982. What is this thing called Science? Second Edition. Open University Press, Buckingham.  179 pp.

Kuhn, T. S. 1970. The Structure of scientific Revolutions. Univeristy of Chicago Press, Chicago. 210 pp.

Medawar, P. 1969. Indiction and Intuition in Scientific Thought. London: Methuen.

Popper, K. R. 1968. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. London: Hutchinson.

Popper, K. R. 1972. Objective Knowledge. Oxford University Press.  395 pp.

Created by David R. Larsen, Jaunary 4, 2000
Last Updated: December 15, 2009