Applied Ecology and the Logic of Case Studies

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Because of the problems associated with ecological concepts, generalizations, and proposed general theories, applied ecology may require a new "logic" of explanation characterized neither by the traditional accounts of confirmation nor by the logic of discovery. Building on the works of Grunbaum, Kuhn, and Wittgenstein, we use detailed descriptions from research on conserving the Northern Spotted Owl, a case typical of problem solving in applied ecology, to (1) characterize the method of case studies; (2) survey its strengths; (3) summarize and respond to its shortcomings; and (4) investigate and defend its underlying "logic".

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Philosophy of Science, v. 61, issue 2, p. 228-249