Chapter

Explanation in Archaeology

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/10.1093/0195108647.003.0024
Explanation in Archaeology

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Originally published 15 years after the initial publication of Ch. 21, deals with subsequent developments in the philosophical discussions of scientific explanation that have special relevance to archaeology. In particular, fruitful discussions among philosophers who embrace the unification approach to explanation and those who favor the causal approach, offer useful insights into how to handle functional explanations. Many archaeologists try to avoid functional explanations, although they seem to be crucial to archaeological theory, because of a fear that such explanations are not scientific. The author endorses archaeologists’ search for scientific explanations, and tries to show how they can better pursue that goal if they are not hampered by rigid adherence to older philosophical models of explanation.

Keywords: archaeology; causal explanation; functional explanation

Chapter.  3831 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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