Philosophy, Value Judgments, and Declining Amphibians

Sarah Aucoin, Robert G. Jaeger and Steve Giambrone

in Amphibian Declines

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780520235922
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929432 | DOI:
Philosophy, Value Judgments, and Declining Amphibians

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Most amphibian biologists would agree that some species of amphibians, or at least some populations of some species, are in decline and may be heading for extinction. Steven Shapin's (1996) view of how the modern natural sciences establish knowledge (based on the historical roots of the Scientific Revolution) provides an interesting framework from which to examine contemporary discourses concerning “declining amphibian populations.” If one believes the paradigm advocated by Shapin, then amphibian population and community ecologists should follow a rigorous philosophy of science in their studies of populations and species, in which “society is kept at bay.” This chapter explores whether environmental ethics and the philosophy of science can or cannot lead to a unified approach to drawing “strong inferences” from diverse research programs. First, it considers the use of deduction versus induction to understand declines and disappearances of amphibian populations. It then compares strong inference with value judgments. The chapter also discusses the link between life history parameters and amphibian declines.

Keywords: Steven Shapin; amphibians; population declines; ecologists; philosophy of science; environmental ethics; inference; deduction; induction; value judgments

Chapter.  5176 words. 

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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