Publication details [#3786]

Cuddington, Kim. 2001. Math, metaphor and meaning in population ecology. Guelph, Ontario, Canada. 2001 pp.


I argue that accounts of the scientific process must include explanations of how metaphorical language influences theory development and knowledge transmission. Unlike other authors, I maintain that metaphors in science are not special in their ability to convey meaning. In particular, scientific metaphors can be just as ambiguous as literary metaphors. Using two studies from population ecology, I show that while metaphors are necessary for theory development, their inherent ambiguity can cause confusion about new concepts. This confusion can have either positive or negative impacts on a scientific research program. (Kim Cuddington)