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Philosophy and Archaeology - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780126156508, 9781483295770

Philosophy and Archaeology

1st Edition

Author: Merrilee H. Salmon
eBook ISBN: 9781483295770
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 28th December 1982
Page Count: 203
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Studies in Archaeology: Philosophy and Archaeology presents the circumstances under which archeological hypotheses can be considered confirmed or disconfirmed. This book discusses the role of analogy in archeological reasoning, particularly in ascribing functions to archeological items.

Organized into seven chapters, this book begins with an overview of the relationship between archeology and philosophy. This text then examines the importance of laws for archeology and discusses some essential features of law statements. Other chapters consider the strong claims for the hypothetico–deductive method of confirmation in various works by archeologists. This book discusses as well the different uses of analogical reasoning in archeology and provides a discussion of the structure of analogical arguments, criteria for evaluating them, and their relations to the Bayesian arguments for confirmation. The final chapter deals with several issues related to the development of a theory of archeology.

This book is a valuable resource for archeologists and philosophers.

Table of Contents



One. Introduction

Two. Laws in Archaeology

Introduction and Examples

Some Features of Laws: Generality and Truth

Determinism and Statistical Laws

Methodological Determinism

Differences Between Laws of Physics and Laws of the Biological and Behavioral Sciences

Are There Any Laws of Archaeology?

The Importance of Laws for Archaeology

Are There Any Nontrivial Laws of Archaeology?

An Attempt to Employ Laws in an Archaeological Explanation


Three. Confirmation in Archaeology


The Logic of Confirmation

The Hypothetico-Deductive Method

Relative Confirmation and Absolute Confirmation

Inadequacy of the H-D Method as a Model of Confirmation in Archaeology

Prior Probabilities

An Alternative Pattern for Confirmation

Bayes' Method

Alternative Hypotheses


Four. Analogy and Functional Ascription


Form and Function


Analysis and Evaluation of Arguments from Analogy

An Attempt to Provide a General Method for Ascribing Functions

Criticism of the Attempt

Ethnoarchaeology and Analogy


Five. Functional Explanation

Introduction and Examples of Functional Explanations

Functional Explanations Versus Functionalist Theories of Anthropology

The Consistency of Functional Explanations with Scientists' Understanding of Causality

Some Connections Between Functional Explanations and Systems

Models of the Phenomena and Models, or Patterns, of Explanation

Difficulties in Fitting Functional Explanations with Some Standard Models of Scientific Explanation

Some Inadequacies in the Standard Philosophical Models, or Patterns, of Scientific Explanation

An Attempt to Preserve Causal Features in Functional Explanations

An Attempt to Preserve Structure and Causality


Six. Structure of Archaeological Explanation


Explaining the Character of a Faunal Assemblage

Structure of the Explanation

Deductive-Statistical Explanation—Explaining Regularities

Explaining the Occurrence of a Pattern

Problems with the High Probability Requirement

Causal Relevance and Statistical Relevance

Probabilistic Causes

Common Causes


Seven. Theory Building in Archaeology


The Definitional Approach

Operational Definition


Formal Theories

Mathematical Modeling

Constructing Theories by Borrowing

General Assumptions, Common-Sense Hypotheses, Induction, and Theories


Concluding Remarks


Author Index

Subject Index


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 1982
28th December 1982
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Merrilee H. Salmon

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