THINKING WITH THINGS: EVIDENTIAL REASONING IN ARCHAEOLOGY
What counts as evidence, and what are best practices for reasoning with evidence in archaeological contexts? In this seminar we will take a case-based approach to building a philosophical framework for understanding contemporary archaeological debates about evidence. A recent overview of these debates, Evidential Reasoning in Archaeology (Chapman & Wylie 2015), will set the stage, and then we turn to readings that represent positions staked out by the New Archaeologists and their post-processual critics, paired with a selection of the logical empiricist and “contextualist” philosophies of science that influenced them. In the second half of the seminar we will consider accounts of evidential reasoning in archaeology that resist the oppositional structure of this debate. These will be drawn primarily from Material Evidence (ed. Chapman & Wylie 2015), juxtaposed with recent work on evidential reasoning in philosophy of the historical sciences, chiefly Rock Bone and Ruin (Currie 2018) and Making Prehistory (Turner 2007).
Prerequisites: at least one advanced course in history and/or philosophy of science or in archaeological theory strongly recommended. Contact the instructor if you have questions.
Graduate students are most welcome. If you prefer to take this course for 500-level (PHIL) credit contact the instructor to arrange graduate-level requirements and to complete the necessary form. This request must be approved before registration closes.