Chapter

Models of Scientific Inquiry and Statistical Practice: Implications for the Structure of Scientific Knowledge

Brian A. Maurer

in The Nature of Scientific Evidence

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780226789552
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226789583 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226789583.003.0002
Models of Scientific Inquiry and Statistical Practice: Implications for the Structure of Scientific Knowledge

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Practitioners of science often go about their craft in a manner that is unique to each discipline. Statistics must serve different purposes defined by the nature of the subject matter and maturity of a given discipline. Ecology operates under a mixture of techniques, philosophies, and goals. This chapter examines two complementary models of scientific inquiry within ecology, each of which serves unique functions in the discovery of scientific knowledge. The first is inductive science, which begins with the accumulation of observations with the intent of discovering patterns. For this kind of science, parameter estimation is more useful than formal hypothesis testing. The second is deductive science, which begins with proposed explanations deduced from formal theories. Hypothetico-deductive experimental designs are used to maximize the chance of detecting theoretical flaws by falsification of predictions. The statistical evaluation of scientific evidence plays different roles in each of these two models of the scientific process. As an example of the roles played by inductive and deductive science in the development of a field of inquiry, this chapter considers the development of modern community ecology.

Keywords: science; scientific knowledge; community ecology; inductive science; deductive science; statistics; scientific evidence; scientific inquiry; experimental designs; scientific process

Chapter.  13366 words. 

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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