, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 263-281

Toward a more expansive conception of ecological science

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Abstract

There are two competing conceptions of the nature and domain of ecological science in the popular and academic literature, an orthodox conception and a more expansive conception. The orthodox conception conceives ecology as a natural biological science distinct from the human social sciences. The more expansive conception views ecology as a science whose domain properly spans both the natural and social sciences. On the more expansive conception, non-traditional ecological disciplines such as “ecological psychology”, “ecological anthropology” and “ecological economics” may legitimately be regarded as sub-disciplines of ecology, and the practitioners of such disciplines as ecologists. The orthodox-expansionist issue is significant both for the practice of ecology and for the self-identity of the philosophy of ecology. I argue in favour of the expansionist conception of ecology on general conceptual grounds, and by developing the case for one particular non-traditional ecological discipline, ecological psychology.