Lecture 3 › Clark Week 2

Lecture 3 › Clark Week 2 - Journal...

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Journal of Archaeological Research, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1993 Paradigms in Science and Archaeology G. A. Clark I The paradigm concept as developed in western philosophy of science contexts is reviewed, and the metaphysical paradigms that govern research protocols in mainstream Old and New World prehistoric archaeology are described and compared. It is concluded that post-1970 New World archaeological research receives its intellectual mandate from anthropology, is founded on postpositivist biases, and is governed by a critical-realist ontology, a modified-objectivist epistemology, and an experimental-manipulative methodology. Post-1970 Old World archaeological research is viewed as a kind of history, remains mostly in the strict empiricist tradition, and is governed by a realist ontology, an inductivist epistemology, and by an observational methodology. The claims of various kinds of postprocessual archaeology are also evaluated in terms of the paradigm concept. KEY WORDS: prehistoric archaeology; postpositivism; epistemology; research traditions; criti- cal realism. INTRODUCTION Each country has its own traditions of research in respect to the vari- ous disciplines that comprise its intellectual life. These traditions are based, in the final analysis, on the concept of the metaphysical paradigm--a col- lection of biases and preconceptions about the nature of our knowledge of the world or, in the present context, some aspect of the world, such as a scientific discipline. In the United States, prehistoric archaeology is the rough equivalent of what is known as prehistory in Europe (but is consid- ered a branch of anthropology), is typically taught in departments of an- thropology, and proceeds from fundamental concepts and assumptions that 1Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287. 203 1059-0161/93/0900-0203507.00/0 © 1993 Plenum Publishing Corporation
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204 Clark are distinct from those that underlie the teaching of prehistory in Europe. In Europe, prehistoric archaeology is usually considered to be a kind of history projected back into the preliterate past. It is taught in history de- partments, or in autonomous departments of archaeology, treats process in the remote past as an extension of process in history, and is conceptually and organizationally separated from social and cultural anthropology (Clark and Lindly, 1991). This essay reviews the paradigm concept as it has been used in west- ern science, then compares the paradigms that govern prehistoric archae- ology in the anglophone New World with those that govern archaeology in the Old World (especially those of continental Europe). I also summarize and provide a reaction to the claims of various kinds of postprocessual archaeology, notably those identified with its British wing. I endeavor to present a sketch of the fundamental concepts that are important in the two research traditions, because I believe that these shadowy entities, sel- dom made explicit, have a marked effect on our construals of pattern in
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Lecture 3 › Clark Week 2 - Journal...

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