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date: 20 July 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Interactions between archaeology and philosophy are traced, from the ‘New Archaeology’s’ use of ideas from logical empiricism, the subsequent loss of confidence in such ideas, the falsificationist alternative, the rise of ‘scientific realism’, and the influence of the ‘new’ philosophies of science of the 1960s on post-processual archaeology. Some recent ideas from philosophy of science are introduced, and that discipline’s recent trajectory, featuring debate between realists and anti-realists, as well as a return to ‘classic’ concerns about explanation, causation, and laws of nature, is described. Many interactions between philosophy of science and archaeology have been based on a misplaced quest for a single ‘off-the-peg’ methodology or other philosophical framework for archaeology. Historical conditions have fostered the damaging idea that archaeologists have to choose between ‘positivism’ and subjectivism. I conclude by suggesting what kinds of contemporary philosophical work might interest archaeologists, and argue that philosophers should recognize the distinctive heterogeneity of archaeology.

Keywords: logical empiricism, explanation, laws, New Archaeology, processualism, models, scientific realism, hermeneutics, post-processualism, cognitive archaeology

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