Chapter

Causality in Archaeological Explanation

Wesley C. Salmon

in Causality and Explanation

Published in print May 1998 | ISBN: 9780195108644
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833627 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195108647.003.0023
Causality in Archaeological Explanation

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This chapter extends the discussion of the preceding chapter, and emphasizes the causal dimensions of explanation in archaeology. The author considers the sorts of situations that archaeologists want to explain, and notes that many of these are events that result from a complex set of factors, some of which are positively relevant to the occurrence of the event and others that are negatively relevant. In addition, many events that archaeologists want to explain are events that had a very low probability of occurrence. The author argues that formal philosophical models of explanation, such as the D‐N and the I‐S models, are ill suited to the task of archaeological explanation. What is needed, he says, is the development of a probabilistic account of causality that can supplement notions of statistical relevance in explanations of archaeological phenomena.

Keywords: archaeology; causal explanation; negative relevance; probabilistic causality; probability; statistical relevance

Chapter.  4914 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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