Synergy through disunity, science as social practice: Comments on VanPool and VanPool

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10 Scopus citations


In "The Scientific Nature of Postprocessualism" VanPool and VanPool (1999) attempt to demonstrate that the sometimes hostile debate between processualist and postprocessualist archaeologies disguises substantive intellectual similarities. The most important similarity is their conformity to a refined definition of science. This definition is based on seven criteria that, as a group, demarcate science from nonscience. VanPool and VanPool pay inadequate attention to critiques of the notion that science can be clearly separated from other forms of inquiry. These critiques come from both within the literature VanPool and VanPool cite as well as from bodies of literature that they do not acknowledge, such as recent sociological, philosophical, and anthropological studies of science. Many of the demarcation criteria can be shown to suffer from overly simplistic accounts of the connections between evidence and hypothesis. Other demarcations do not recognize the social nature of scientific inquiry and the consequent incorporation of interests at various scales. Although VanPool and VanPool believe their criteria of science will promote synergy between processual and postprocessual, this paper questions the conceptualization of these schools and argues that synergy is better accomplished through the appreciation of difference among the various archaeologies and openness to alternative epistemologies. Copyright

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-360
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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