Mikkelson, Gregory M. (2002) Ecological Kinds and Ecological Laws. [Preprint]
Ecologists typically invoke "lawlike" generalizations, ranging over "structural" and/or "functional" kinds, in order to explain generalizations about "historical" kinds (such as biological taxa) � rather than vice versa. This practice is justified, since structural and functional kinds tend to correlate better with important ecological phenomena than do historical kinds. I support these contentions with three recent case studies. In one sense, then, ecology is, and should be, more nomothetic, or law-based, than ideographic, or historically-based. This conclusion challenges several recent philosophical claims about the nature of ecological science.
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