Differentiating and defusing theoretical Ecology's criticisms: A rejoinder to Sagoff's reply to Donhauser (2016).

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Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences, ISSN: 1879-2499, Vol: 63, Issue: Supple, Page: 70-79

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Donhauser, Justin
Elsevier BV
Arts and Humanities
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In a (2016) paper in this journal, I defuse allegations that theoretical ecological research is problematic because it relies on teleological metaphysical assumptions. Mark Sagoff offers a formal reply. In it, he concedes that I succeeded in establishing that ecologists abandoned robust teleological views long ago and that they use teleological characterizations as metaphors that aid in developing mechanistic explanations of ecological phenomena. Yet, he contends that I did not give enduring criticisms of theoretical ecology a fair shake in my paper. He says this is because enduring criticisms center on concerns about the nature of ecological networks and forces, the instrumentality of ecological laws and theoretical models, and the relation between theoretical and empirical methods in ecology that that paper does not broach. Below I set apart the distinct criticisms Sagoff presents in his commentary and respond to each in turn.