Non-Fiction Books:

Explaining Human Actions and Environmental Changes



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Explaining Human Actions and Environmental Changes by Andrew P. Vayda
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In this collection of recent essays, Andrew P. Vayda argues for a pragmatic approach to explanation and explanation-oriented research in social and environmental sciences. He supports his arguments with causal analyses of both human actions, such as cutting down trees and fighting over resources, and environmental changes, such as forest fires; and he voices his opposition to methodological and ethnographic holism and the notion that explanation can be achieved by deploying theories rather than by obtaining evidence of the causal histories of concrete actions and events. Vayda is critical of much recent scholarship_in such areas as political ecology, local knowledge studies, discourse studies, and evolutionary human behavioral ecology_for its indifference to questions of evidence and methodology and its failure to give proper consideration to multiple and alternative possible causes of whatever is being explained. He also discusses the use and misuse of evidence and generalizations, the payoffs and pitfalls of moving from one level of analysis to another, the dos and don'ts in interdisciplinary research, the uses of statistics, and the importance of being clear about objects of explanation. This original and challenging work makes sense of the future of ecological anthropology and will be of interest to researchers in the social and environmental sciences in general.

Author Biography

Andrew P. Vayda is professor emeritus of anthropology and ecology at Rutgers University.
Release date Australia
June 16th, 2009
Country of Publication
United States
AltaMira Press,U.S.
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