'Diverse Epistemologies', Truth and Archaeology: In Defence of Realism [Book Review]

Science and Engineering Ethics 17 (2):321-334 (2011)
Abstract
In a recent journal article, as well as in a recent book chapter, in which she critiques my position on ‘indigenous knowledge’, Lesley Green of the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town argues that ‘diverse epistemologies ought to be evaluated not on their capacity to express a strict realism but on their ability to advance understanding’. In order to examine the implications of Green’s arguments, and of Nelson Goodman and Catherine Elgin’s work in this regard, I apply them to a well-known controversy between Native American (or First Nations) creationism and archaeology. I argue that issues in social justice should be distinguished from issues in epistemology. Moreover, in tightening in this paper the link between knowledge and truth, I attempt to defend science as a ‘privileged way of seeing the world’. The analysis of truth, and of related concepts like reality and ‘the way the world is’, will assume a central role here. I contend that, ultimately, the only coherent and consistent position is a realist view of the pertinent issues and ideas
Keywords Diversity  Epistemologies  Knowledge  Realism  Science  Truth
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