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Scientists often make surprising claims about things that no one can observe. In physics, chemistry, and molecular biology, scientists can at least experiment on those unobservable entities, but what about researchers in fields such as paleobiology and geology who study prehistory, where no such experimentation is possible? Do scientists discover facts about the distant past or do they, in some sense, make prehistory? In this book Derek Turner argues that this problem has surprising and important consequences for the scientific realism debate. His discussion covers some of the main positions in philosophy of science - realism, social constructivism, empiricism, and the natural ontological attitude - and shows how they relate to issues in paleobiology and geology. His original and thought-provoking book will be of wide interest to philosophers and scientists alike.Read more
- Discusses some of the main positions in current philsophy of science showing how they relate to paleobiology and geology
- Illustrated with a broad range of examples
- Accessible not just to specialists but also to graduate courses
Reviews & endorsements
"I, at least, have been woken from my dogmatic slumbers by Derek Turner's rich and provocative book Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate...it is an outstanding book on scientific realism -- one that pushes the debate into hitherto uncharted territories."
--Stathis Psillos, University of Athens, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
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- Date Published: August 2007
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521875202
- length: 238 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.52kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
2. The colors of the dinosaurs
3. Manipulation matters
4. Paleontology's chimeras
5. Novel predictions in historical science
6. Making prehistory: could the past be socially constructed?
7. The natural historical attitude
8. Snowball Earth in the balance
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