Gregory Cooper's study examines issues in the philosophy of ecology that have been a source of controversy since the existence of ecology as a discipline. These controversies revolve around the concept of a balance of nature; the possibility of general ecological knowledge; and the role of model-building in ecology. The analysis has cross-disciplinary appeal and will interest students and professionals in science, the philosophy of science, and environmental studies as well as policy-makers. – Contents : Introduction. Acknowledgements. 1. The struggle for existence; 2. The roots of controversy; 3. Must there be a balance of nature?; 4. The pursuit of ecological generality; 5. Model building: a controversial craft; 6. Theoretical explanation and fundamental laws; 7. The explanatory continuum; 8. Theories, models and explanatory tools. – Epilogue.