Guessing the future of the past: Derek Turner, Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Realism Debate. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2007

Biology and Philosophy 25 (1):125-142 (2010)
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Abstract

I review the book “Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate” by Derek Turner. Turner suggests that philosophers should take seriously the historical sciences such as geology when considering philosophy of science issues. To that end, he explores the scientific realism debate with the historical sciences in mind. His conclusion is a view allied to that of Arthur Fine: a view Turner calls the natural historical attitude. While I find Turner’s motivations good, I find his characterisation of the historical sciences unconvincing. I say why in a section at the end of the review. The result is that I am unpersuaded by his thesis.

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Ben Jeffares
Australian National University (PhD)

Citations of this work

A second look at the colors of the dinosaurs.Derek D. Turner - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 55:60-68.
Historical Reconstruction: Gaining Epistemic Access to the Deep Past.Patrick Forber - 2011 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 3 (20130604).
Technoscientific approaches to deep time.Marco Tamborini - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 79:57-67.
Historical Science, Over- and Underdetermined: A Study of Darwin’s Inference of Origins.Aviezer Tucker - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (4):805-829.

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