Volume 9 - Article 11 | Pages 263-284
Demography in a new key: A theory of population theory
|Date received:||24 Apr 2003|
|Date published:||05 Dec 2003|
|Keywords:||demographic models, demographic theory, methodology, philosophy of science, population theory, the structure of demographic knowledge|
The widespread opinion that demography is lacking in theory is based in part on a particular view of the nature of scientific theory, generally known as logical empiricism [or positivism]. A newer school of philosophy of science, the model-based view, provides a different perspective on demography, one that enhances its status as a scientific discipline.
From this perspective, much of formal demography can be seen as a collection of substantive models of population dynamics [how populations and cohorts behave], in short, theoretical knowledge. And many theories in behavioural demography - often discarded as too old or too simplistic - can be seen as perfectly good scientific theory, useful for many purposes, although often in need of more rigorous statement.
Thomas K. Burch - University of Victoria, Canada
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