SEMINAR: Soil&Water Seminar, 1pm Sept6:
|Soil&Water Seminar, 1pm Sept6: : "Towards a philosophy of soil science"
The Soil&Water Seminar at 1pm on Tues, Sept. 6th will be given by Professor Martin Fey from the School of Earth and Environment. All welcome!
TITLE: “Towards a philosophy of soil science”
Besides the philosophy of science there is a philosophy of particular sciences. This paper addresses each of the classical branches of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and aesthetics) from a soil science perspective. By comparing soil with rock, regolith, biomantle and duricrust we understand it from different perspectives. The roots of soil science lie in the study of soil for its own sake. Logically the main branches of soil science should be physics, chemistry (including mineralogy) and genesis, with each having applied divisions as appropriate: edaphology (agriculture, forestry, ecology); informatics (classification, spatiation, databases); environmental management (conservation, pollution, restoration) and engineering (construction, tillage, mining, traffic and water). Some hybrid subjects such as soil biology belong less in soil science than in the partner discipline. Certain fashionable terms used in soil science have pitfalls. Notable examples (with respective pitfalls) are soil health (condition and quality are sufficient terms); ecosystem services (property, process and function are adequate terms); intrinsic value (no such thing - value is relational by definition); holism and complexity theory (cognitive significance is lacking); sustainability (green politics buzzword); and organic production (a term widely abused). Cognitive significance is crucial. Research funding and public policy interact. Researchers often have a vested interest in accepting and promoting ideas. This applies to recipients of both government and big business funding. Some of the best discoveries result from amateur interest. Professional registration is claimed to ensure ethical practice but could be seen as unethical by those whom it excludes and those who feel they pay excessively for the service. Certification should be voluntary and non-registered practitioners free to establish and benefit from their own reputations. Soil and land can be viewed from an individualist (voluntary) or collectivist (coercive) perspective. Should soil pollution and erosion be tackled by legislation or jurisprudence? Soil profiles are beautiful. The colour and tilth of a ploughed field can be fine things to behold. Restoration after mining entails aesthetic landscaping. Some creative art is soil based. Soil themes in literature can be inspiring. The philosophy of soil science affects the self esteem of practitioners and makes soil science more durable as a discipline.
Prof. Martin Fey, School of Earth and Environment
Agriculture Lecture Theatre (G.013), in the Agriculture NW wing (Map: http://www.uwa.edu.au/campus_map?id=1871)
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 13:00
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 13:45
Ursula Salmon <[email protected]>
Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:52
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