Ecology and the Environment

Anya Plutynski

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182057
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Ecology and the Environment


Ecology is the study of the interactions of organisms and their environments. The methods of ecology fall roughly into three categories: descriptive surveys of patterns of species and resource distribution and abundance, theoretical modeling, and experimental manipulations. Ecological systems are “open” systems, and patterns and processes are products of a huge number of interacting forces. Ecology and the environmental sciences have made enormous advances since the mid-twentieth century in the understanding of ecological systems, as well as in the human impact on the environment. Theory in ecology usually centers on the development of models. Environmental outcomes are uncertain and when making decisions under uncertainty, there are a variety of options available. One option is to carry out a cost benefit analysis based upon expected utilities and other is to adopt the precautionary principle. Uncertainty and under determination of theory by evidence is a fact of life in science.

Keywords: ecology; interaction; system; theory; environment; model; science

Article.  9625 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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