Rock, Bone and Ruin
An Optimist’s Guide to the Historical Sciences
Adrian Currie’s Rock, Bone and Ruin: An Optimist’s Guide to the Historical Sciences is a systematic philosophical examination of how scientists generate knowledge of the deep past. Currie’s analysis emphasizes the flexible, creative and opportunistic epistemic strategies historical scientists adopt. Paleontologists, geologists and archaeologists construct and co-opt a wide range of tools, techniques and other epistemic resources, and adapt them to the particular needs of their ‘epistemic situations’. Currie argues forcefully that understanding scientific success requires an examination of the local strategies of scientists, adopting a synthetic approach that threads the needle between highly abstract, formalized philosophical analysis and the rich, detailed descriptions of cases common in the history and philosophy of science.