Philosophical Issues in Recent Paleontology

Philosophy Compass 9 (7):494-505 (2014)

Authors
Derek D. Turner
Connecticut College
Abstract
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 way of doing historical science that defies categorization as idiographic or nomothetic. Yet the tension between (a) and (b) persists in some recent work in the philosophy of science, with Carol Cleland defending a version of (a) and Dan McShea and Robert Brandon defending a version of (b). In placing Cleland's work into conversation with that of McShea and Brandon, this paper defends a third (c) synthetic approach that emphasizes the blending of idiographic and nomothetic work
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DOI 10.1111/phc3.12147
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References found in this work BETA

Real Patterns.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.
Dimensions of Scientific Law.Sandra D. Mitchell - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (2):242-265.

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Citations of this work BETA

Paleobiology and Philosophy.Adrian Currie - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):31.
Introduction: Scientific Knowledge of the Deep Past.Adrian Currie & Derek Turner - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 55:43-46.
Testing Hypotheses in Macroevolution.Lindell Bromham - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 55:47-59.

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