Theoretical disputes and practical environmental dilemmas : an interdisciplinary study

University dissertation from Örebro : Örebro universitetsbibliotek

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to analyse the scientific basis for diverging recommendations in environmental management. A further aim of this study is to discuss the links and interactions between disciplines related to science of environmental issues, and between natural science and practice in dealing with environmental management and ecological sustainability. The question at issue was whether ontological (how the world is constituted) and epistemological (how achieve knowledge about the world) differences between disciplines lead to opposing conclusions. Scientific disputes were selected systematically to examine and analyse the theoretical characteristics and reasons of these disputes. Two case studies were selected: forest nitrogen fertilisation and constructed wetlands. Content analysis was used to study the theoretical content of and the reasons for the disputes within these two scientific areas. Research articles published in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, and publications in anthologies were chosen as the empirical material. The results show that theoretical disputes arise from the diversity of disciplines and fragmentation of theoretical frameworks. The conclusions are that one way to overcome scientific disputes and achieve common knowledge and solutions to environmental problems is to identify and compare values and principles of the different scientific research traditions.

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