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Thinking from Things

Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology

Alison Wylie (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 357 pages
ISBN: 9780520223615
November 2002
$52.95, £41.00
Other Formats Available:
In this long-awaited compendium of new and newly revised essays, Alison Wylie explores how archaeologists know what they know. Examining the history and methodology of Anglo-American archaeology, Wylie puts the tumultuous debates of the last thirty years in historical and philosophical perspective.

PART ONE. Introduction
Philosophy from the Ground Up

PART TWO. How New Is the New Archaeology, and Other Historical Essays
1. How New Is the New Archaeology?
2. The Typology Debate
3. The Conceptual Core of the New Archaeology
4. Emergent Tensions in the New Archaeology
5. Arguments for Scientific Realism
6. Between Philosophy and Archaeology

PART THREE. Interpretive Dilemmas: Crisis Arguments in the New Archaeology
7. The Interpretive Dilemma
8. Epistemological Issues Raised by Symbolic and Structuralist Archaeology
9. The Reaction against Analogy
10. Putting Shakertown Back Together: Critical Theory in Archaeology
11. Archaeological Cables and Tacking: Beyond Objectivism and Relativism

PART FOUR. On Being "Empirical" but Not "Narrowly Empiricist"
12. "Heavily Decomposing Red Herrings": Middle Ground in the Anti-/Postprocessualism Wars
13. Bootstrapping in the Un-natural Sciences—Archaeology, for Example
14. The Constitution of Archaeological Evidence: Gender Politics and Science
15. Rethinking Unity as a "Working Hypothesis" for Philosophy of Science: How Archaeologists Exploit the Disunities of Science
16. Unification and Convergence in Archaeological Explanation

PART FIVE. Issues of Accountability
17. Ethical Dilemmas in Archaeological Practice: The (Trans)formation of Disciplinary Identity

Alison Wylie is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University. She is the coeditor of Critical Traditions in Contemporary Archaeology: Essays in the History, Philosophy, and Socio-Politics of Archaeology (1989; 1995), Ethics in American Archaeology (2000), and Equity Issues for Women in Archaeology (1994).
"No other work in this field covers the history of important conceptual issues in archaeology in such a deep and knowledgable way, bringing both philosophical and archeological sophistication to bear on all of the issues treated. Wylie’s work in Thinking from Things is original, scholarly, and creative. This book is for anyone who wants to understand contemporary archaeological theory, how it came to be as it is, its relationship with other disciplines, and its prospects for the future."—Merrilee Salmon, author of Philosophy and Archaeology

"Wylie is a reasonable and astute thinker who lucidly and persuasively makes genuinely constructive criticisms of archaeological thought and practice and very useful suggestions for how to proceed. She commands both philisophy and archaeology to an unusual degree. Having her articles together in Thinking from Things, with much new material extending and integrating them, is a major contribution that will be widely welcomed among archaeologists—both professionals and students, philosophers and historians of science, and social scientists."—George L. Cowgill, Arizona State University

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