By Alison Wylie

During this long-awaited compendium of recent and newly revised essays, Alison Wylie explores how archaeologists recognize what they be aware of. interpreting the heritage and technique of Anglo-American archaeology, Wylie places the tumultuous debates of the final thirty years in ancient and philosophical standpoint.

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The most radical challenges issued by SSK practitioners in the 1970s and 1980s have been substantially refined and qualified over time. The results of their own fine-grained sociological and historical research suggest that the sociological reduction of science to external (noncognitive) factors is just as untenable as its philosophical reduction to internal epistemic (cognitive) factors. Reviewing the state of sociology of science in 1992, Pickering objects that the traditional SSK program was compromised from the outset by a conception of science he describes as “idealized,” “abstract,” “thin,” and “reductive”; as a consequence, “SSK simply does not offer us the conceptual apparatuses needed to catch up the richness of the doing of science[;] .

Despite the formalism of these models, Gardin is compelled by the practice he considers to foreground the selective, the interpretive, and even the normative dimensions of archaeological inquiry (Gardin 1980, and in Gardin and Peebles 1992; also Gallay 1989). , Tschauner 1996). 32 The philosophical theory that best captures these forms of practice, Kosso argues, is a sophisticated antifoundationalism that shares a number of key features with Kelley and Hanen’s broadly coherentist account (1988); although there are no self-justifying grounds for belief (empirical or otherwise), the various constituents of networks of belief constrain one another in ways that can stabilize evidential claims (Kosso 1993).

L. Binford and Sabloff 1982: 139). , the “action research” advocated by Kleindienst and Watson in 1956), was to declare that a scientific archaeology must philosophy from the ground up 17 00-C2186-INT 7/3/02 8:40 AM Page 18 systematically develop, or selectively borrow, the background knowledge necessary to establish reliable arguments of relevance—“ascriptions of meaning”—to archaeological data. Some advocates of actualistic research 29 maintained the deductivism of Hempelian models; their goal was to establish universal laws capable of retrodicting past events or conditions of life from their surviving material record.

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