Volume 9 - Article 11 | Pages 263–284

Demography in a new key: A theory of population theory

By Thomas K. Burch

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Date received:24 Apr 2003
Date published:05 Dec 2003
Word count:7180
Keywords:demographic models, demographic theory, methodology, philosophy of science, population theory


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.

Author's Affiliation

Thomas K. Burch - University of Victoria, Canada [Email]

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