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Relating traditional and academic ecological knowledge: mechanistic and holistic epistemologies across cultures

Ludwig, David and Poliseli, Luana (2018) Relating traditional and academic ecological knowledge: mechanistic and holistic epistemologies across cultures. Biology & Philosophy, 33 (43). ISSN 1572-8404

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Abstract

Current debates about the integration of traditional and academic ecological knowledge (TEK and AEK) struggle with a dilemma of division and assimilation. On the one hand, the emphasis on differences between traditional and academic perspectives has been criticized as creating an artificial divide that brands TEK as “nonscientific” and contributes to its marginalization. On the other hand, there has been increased concern about inadequate assimilation of Indigenous and other traditional perspectives into scientific practices that disregards the holistic nature and values of TEK. The aim of this article is to develop a practice-based account of the epistemic
relations between TEK and AEK that avoids both horns of the dilemma. While relations between TEK and AEK are often described in terms of the “holistic” nature of the former and the “mechanistic” character of the latter, we argue that a simple holism–mechanism divide misrepresents the epistemic resources of both TEK and AEK. Based on the literature on mechanistic explanations in philosophy of science, we argue that holders of TEK are perfectly capable of identifying mechanisms that underlie ecological phenomena while AEK often relies on non-mechanistic strategies of dealing with ecological complexity. Instead of generic characterizations of knowledge systems as either mechanistic or holistic, we propose to approach epistemic relations between knowledge systems by analyzing their (partly mechanistic and partly holistic) heuristics in practice.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Ludwig, Daviddavid.ludwig@wur.nl
Poliseli, Luana
Keywords: Traditional ecological knowledge · Indigenous knowledge · Mechanisms · Mechanistic explanation · Holism · Philosophy of ecology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Science and Society
Depositing User: Dr David Ludwig
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2018 14:05
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2018 14:05
Item ID: 15364
Journal or Publication Title: Biology & Philosophy
Publisher: Springer
DOI or Unique Handle: doi.org/10.1007/s10539-018-9655-x
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Science and Society
Date: 2018
Volume: 33
Number: 43
ISSN: 1572-8404
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15364

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