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Amphibian DeclinesThe Conservation Status of United States Species$
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Michael Lannoo

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520235922

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520235922.001.0001

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Philosophy, Value Judgments, and Declining Amphibians

Philosophy, Value Judgments, and Declining Amphibians

(p.10) Three Philosophy, Value Judgments, and Declining Amphibians
Amphibian Declines

Sarah Aucoin

Robert G. Jaeger

Steve Giambrone

University of California Press

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

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