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  1. From Things to Thinking: Cognitive Archaeology.Adrian Currie & Anton Killin - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Cognitive archaeologists infer from material remains to the cognitive features of past societies. We characterize cognitive archaeology in terms of trace-based reasoning, which in the case of cognitive archaeology involves inferences drawing upon background theory linking objects from the archaeological record to cognitive features. We analyse such practices, examining work on cognitive evolution, language, and musicality. We argue that the central epistemic challenge for cognitive archaeology is often not a paucity of material remains, but insufficient constraint from cognitive theories. However, (...)
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  • Philosophical Issues in Recent Paleontology.Derek D. Turner - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (7):494-505.
    The distinction between idiographic science, which aims to reconstruct sequences of particular events, and nomothetic science, which aims to discover laws and regularities, is crucial for understanding the paleobiological revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. Stephen Jay Gould at times seemed conflicted about whether to say (a) that idiographic science is fine as it is or (b) that paleontology would have more credibility if it were more nomothetic. Ironically, one of the lasting results of the paleobiological revolution was a new (...)
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  • Underdetermination and Evidence in the Developmental Plasticity Debate.Karen Kovaka - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):127-152.
    I identify a controversial hypothesis in evolutionary biology called the plasticity-first hypothesis. I argue that the plasticity-first hypothesis is underdetermined and that the most popular means of studying the plasticity-first hypothesis are insufficient to confirm or disconfirm it. I offer a strategy for overcoming this problem. Researchers need to develop a richer middle range theory of plasticity-first evolution that allows them to identify distinctive empirical traces of the hypothesis. They can then use those traces to discriminate between rival explanations of (...)
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  • Newton on Islandworld: Ontic-Driven Explanations of Scientific Method.Adrian Currie & Kirsten Walsh - 2018 - Perspectives on Science 26 (1):119-156.
    As philosophers, we are often in the business of explaining scientific method. That is, we ask why such-and-such investigation was carried out as it was, what worked and what didn't, and why. Here, we introduce a framework for understanding "ontic-driven" responses to these kinds of questions. Explanations of method are ontic-driven when they appeal to properties of the systems under investigation. We shall use our framework to develop a fruitful and plausible hypothesis: that several methodological differences between Isaac Newton's two (...)
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  • Narratives, Mechanisms and Progress in Historical Science.Adrian Mitchell Currie - 2014 - Synthese 191 (6):1-21.
    Geologists, Paleontologists and other historical scientists are frequently concerned with narrative explanations targeting single cases. I show that two distinct explanatory strategies are employed in narratives, simple and complex. A simple narrative has minimal causal detail and is embedded in a regularity, whereas a complex narrative is more detailed and not embedded. The distinction is illustrated through two case studies: the ‘snowball earth’ explanation of Neoproterozoic glaciation and recent attempts to explain gigantism in Sauropods. This distinction is revelatory of historical (...)
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  • Back to Australopithecus: Utilizing New Theories of Cognition to Understand the Pliocene Hominins.Ben Jeffares - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (1):1-12.
    The evolution of cognition literature is dominated by views that presume the evolution of underlying neural structures. However, recent models of cognition reemphasize the role of physiological structures, development, and external resources as important components of cognition. This article argues that these alternative models of cognition challenge our understanding of human cognitive evolution. As a case study, it focuses on rehabilitating bipedalism as a crucial moment in human evolution. The australopithecines are often seen as “merely” bipedal chimpanzees, with a similar (...)
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  • The Value of Epistemic Disagreement in Scientific Practice. The Case of Homo Floresiensis.Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (2):169-177.
    Epistemic peer disagreement raises interesting questions, both in epistemology and in philosophy of science. When is it reasonable to defer to the opinion of others, and when should we hold fast to our original beliefs? What can we learn from the fact that an epistemic peer disagrees with us? A question that has received relatively little attention in these debates is the value of epistemic peer disagreement—can it help us to further epistemic goals, and, if so, how? We investigate this (...)
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  • Marsupial Lions and Methodological Omnivory: Function, Success and Reconstruction in Paleobiology.Adrian Currie - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (2):187-209.
    Historical scientists frequently face incomplete data, and lack direct experimental access to their targets. This has led some philosophers and scientists to be pessimistic about the epistemic potential of the historical sciences. And yet, historical science often produces plausible, sophisticated hypotheses. I explain this capacity to generate knowledge in the face of apparent evidential scarcity by examining recent work on Thylacoleo carnifex, the ‘marsupial lion’. Here, we see two important methodological features. First, historical scientists are methodological omnivores, that is, they (...)
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  • Testing Hypotheses in Macroevolution.Lindell Bromham - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 55:47-59.
  • Introduction: Scientific Knowledge of the Deep Past.Adrian Currie & Derek Turner - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 55:43-46.
  • Hot-Blooded Gluttons: Dependency, Coherence, and Method in the Historical Sciences.Adrian Currie - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):929-952.
    Our epistemic access to the past is infamously patchy: historical information degrades and disappears and bygone eras are often beyond the reach of repeatable experiments. However, historical scientists have been remarkably successful at uncovering and explaining the past. I argue that part of this success is explained by the exploitation of dependencies between historical events, entities, and processes. For instance, if sauropod dinosaurs were hot blooded, they must have been gluttons; the high-energy demands of endothermy restrict sauropod grazing strategies. Understanding (...)
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  • Reports From the High Table.Adrian Currie - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (1):149-158.
    David Sepkoski and Michael Ruse’s edited collection The Peolobiological Revolution covers the changes in paleontological science in the last half-century. The collection should be of interest to philosophers of science (particularly those interested in non-reductive unity) as well as historians. I give an overview of the content and major themes of the volume and draw some lessons for the philosophy of science along the way. In particular, I argue that the history of paleontology demands a new approach to philosophical delineation (...)
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  • Prediction and Explanation in Historical Natural Science.C. E. Cleland - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):551-582.
    In earlier work ( Cleland [2001] , [2002]), I sketched an account of the structure and justification of ‘prototypical’ historical natural science that distinguishes it from ‘classical’ experimental science. This article expands upon this work, focusing upon the close connection between explanation and justification in the historical natural sciences. I argue that confirmation and disconfirmation in these fields depends primarily upon the explanatory (versus predictive or retrodictive) success or failure of hypotheses vis-à-vis empirical evidence. The account of historical explanation that (...)
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  • The Co-Evolution of Tools and Minds: Cognition and Material Culture in the Hominin Lineage.Ben Jeffares - 2010 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (4):503-520.
    The structuring of our environment to provide cues and reminders for ourselves is common: We leave notes on the fridge, we have a particular place for our keys where we deposit them, making them easy to find. We alter our world to streamline our cognitive tasks. But how did hominins gain this capacity? What pushed our ancestors to structure their physical environment in ways that buffered thinking and began the process of using the world cognitively? I argue that the capacity (...)
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  • Guessing the Future of the Past.Ben Jeffares - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (1):125-142.
    I review the book “Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate” by Derek Turner. Turner suggests that philosophers should take seriously the historical sciences such as geology when considering philosophy of science issues. To that end, he explores the scientific realism debate with the historical sciences in mind. His conclusion is a view allied to that of Arthur Fine: a view Turner calls the natural historical attitude. While I find Turner’s motivations good, I find his characterisation of the (...)
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