PHIL 466 Papers

Papers are due at noon on the following dates (note change from 3 papers to 2 and new due date)

Apr. 28

June 7


Your second paper should be 5-6 pages, typed, double-spaced with 1 inch margins. If you would like writing credit for the course, each must be 4 pages long and you will need to provide me with drafts before the due date. I will also read rough drafts for anyone interested, provided you give me enough time to read it and return it to you. Electronic submission, using attachments in Word, pdf files, and the like, are particularly welcome. I will return a hard copy of your paper.

Papers should have arguments at their core; you need to identify whole arguments for the views you consider and offer arguments for your claims. Make frequent, specific references to course readings, inserting name and page number after summarizing an argument within the main body of your text (e.g., Kuhn2, 14). No bibliography is necessary if you use only readings from the course.

As in any written work, clarity is the first priority. Use an opening paragraph to anticipate the forthcoming discussion; make links between discussion topics clear; and pull things together in a conclusion. "I don't know" is a perfectly respectable conclusion (and sometimes the most appropriate); but like any conclusion, it requires an argument.

Topic 1: General philosophy of science
Choose one general issue we have considered (the logic of discovery or of justification, the logic of explanation, the nature of observations, Kuhn's account of normal science, demarcation, epistemology v. sociology or psychology of science, and so forth). After explicating an argument concerning it, consider the potential implications for the philosophy of social science. You may use Rosenberg and/or Wylie, but you need not.

Topic 2: Philosophy of archaeology. Suggested topics:
i) Explore the project of The New Archaeology, and the ways in which its practitioners attempted to undertake it, to abandon the strictures of empiricism as understood by logical positivists and simultaneously adopt a positivist methodology. Be sure to be clear about at least some of what motivated the twofold project and provide an argument for one of its strengths and for one of its limitations.   
ii) In several essays, Wylie argues for more nuanced positions concerning realism, evidential relationships, empiricism, and several accepted dichotomies than archaeologists had offered. Choose one essay and issue and after explicating her arguments, critically evaluate them in light of arguments offered in the philosophy of science proper (considered in the first part of the quarter) or by archaeologists advocating a particular methodological orientation for their discipline.
iii) Consider two issues in which the relationships between the social sciences, particularly archaeology, and politics and/or ethics are revealed to be significant. Consider how an aspect of contextualism that emerged in the philosophy of science post "logical positivism" and/or in the practice of archaeologists can provide insights into how best to deal with such relationships.
iv) Consider two implications of developments in archaeology and the philosophy thereof (much of the latter undertaken within the discipline itself rather than by philosophers of science) that call for constructive extensions of the philosophy of science or challenge some key tenets of one or more of the "isms" that have emerged in the philosophy of science.