PHIL 466 Philosophy of the Social Sciences



Lynn Hankinson Nelson
Savery 340


Alison Wylie, Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology 
Additional essays (provided electronically)                                                                                                                             

Course description

We will use issues and debates in archaeology and the philosophy of archaeology to explore central issues in the philosophy of the social sciences. These include, but are not limited to,  the different reactions social scientists have had to logical positivism and the impact on their practices and cognitive values, foundations and                                                  
methodologies of the social sciences, objectivity, interpretation,
evidential relationships, and realism and social constructivism

We will also consider current ethical dilemmas in archaeological practice.           

Formal requirements

Three 4-5 page papers (75%)

In class assignments (25%)

Course dynamics 

To insure informed and worthwhile discussions, reading assignments need to be completed prior to class meetings devoted to them. I will often begin the meeting by highlighting issues and/or significant questions and/or relationships to earlier readings. Discussion, usually guided by specific questions to start and then open, follows. Lecture notes, in the form of overhead captions and content, are provided weekly -- usually during the following weekend. The reading schedule will be provided on this page via a link, as will paper topics and deadlines, and links to lecture notes. We will have an e-mail list on which you may post general questions, points of view, news of relevance, and so forth. I will use the list to announce any changes in the schedule as well as to provide links or information on relevant topics.

Reading Schedule  Updated

Lecture notes 

Formal papers Updated                                                                                                               

Reading questions for May 12