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Ecological Explanation and the Population-Growth Thesis

Kristin Shrader-Frechette
PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
Vol. 1994, Volume One: Contributed Papers (1994), pp. 34-45
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/193009
Page Count: 12
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Ecological Explanation and the Population-Growth Thesis
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Abstract

Many ecologists have dismissed alleged ecological laws as tautological or trivial. This essay investigates the epistemological status of one prominent such "law," the population-growth thesis, and argues for 4 claims: (1) Once interpreted, the thesis cannot be denied the status of empirical law on the grounds that it is always and everywhere untestable. (2) Contrary to Peters' (1991) claim, some interpretations of the thesis have significant heuristic power. (3) One can use the reasoning of Brandon (1990), Lloyd (1987), and Sober (1984) to show that some interpretations of the thesis are not a priori. (4) Even if the thesis is a priori, it has explanatory power as a "schematic law."

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