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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