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Epistemology of the Significance Concept

  • Joseph A. Tainter (a1) and G. John Lucas (a2)

Although the concept of significance has been widely discussed in cultural resource management, the origin of the idea and the epistemology underlying it have remained unexamined. This paper outlines the history of the significance concept in historic preservation and traces the current view of significance to the empiricist-positivist school of Western philosophical thought. Flaws in the arguments of this school, and in the logic of the significance concept, are raised and discussed. Potential approaches for dealing with aspects of the significance dilemma are proposed.

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ImreLakatos 1968 Changes in the Problem of Inductive Logic. In The Problem of Inductive Logic, edited by LakatosImre , pp. 315417. North-Holland, Amsterdam.

William D.Lipe 1978 Contracts, Bureaucrats, and Research: Some Emerging Problems of Conservation Archaeologyin the United States. In Archaeological Essays in Honor of Irving B. Rouse, edited by Robert C.Dunnell and Edwin S.HallJr. , pp. 121147. Mouton, The Hague.

Michael J.Moratto , and Roger E.Kelly 1978 Optimizing Strategies for Evaluating Archaeological Significance. In Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, vol. 1, edited by Michael B.Schiffer , pp. 130. Academic Press, New York.

Karl R.Popper 1959 The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Basic Books, New York.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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