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Paradigms and problems: The practice of social science in natural resource management


Patterson, Michael E.; Williams, Daniel R. 1998. Paradigms and problems: The practice of social science in natural resource management. Society and Natural Resources. 11: 279-295.

Increasingly, natural resource management is seeing calls for new paradigms. These calls pose challenges that have implications not only for planning and management, but also for the practice of science. As a consequence, the profession needs to deepen its understanding of the nature of science by exploring recent advances in the philosophy of science. We believe that one of the problems inhibiting a better understanding of science is a strongly ingrained belief that science is about methodology. This perspective is reflected in Hetherington, Daniel, and Brown's (1994) recent criticism of Bengston's (1994) methodological pluralism. To initiate discussions that may help bring about a reconsideration of the nature of science, we offer a two-part definition of science. The first portrays science as a systematic endeavor that shares a common process without mandating a common methodology. The second part is an attempt to highlight and promote an exploration of the normative structure that underlies science.

Keywords: epistemology, ontology, paradigms, philosophy of science, pluralism, relativism, worldview


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Paradigms and problems: The practice of social science in natural resource management
Electronic Publish Date: March 4, 2010
Last Update:
March 4, 2010

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