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Evidential Reasoning in the Historical Sciences: Applying Toulmin Schemas to the case of Archezoa

Bonnin, Thomas (2019) Evidential Reasoning in the Historical Sciences: Applying Toulmin Schemas to the case of Archezoa. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This article is a study of the role and use of evidence in the evaluation of claims in the historical sciences. In order to do this, I develop a “snapshot” approach to Toulmin schemas. This framework is applied to the case of Archezoa, an initially supported then eventually rejected hypothesis in evolutionary biology. From this case study, I criticize Cleland’s “smoking gun” account of the methodology of the historical sciences. I argue that Toulmin schemas are conceptually precise tools that allow for the building of enriched reconstructions of evidential reasoning. From the application of this framework, I discuss three ways in which the construction and use of facts in the historical sciences are theory-laden. Despite its inherent limits, TS are heuristically useful tools to identify epistemic moves that could be further investigated. It also sheds light on the positive roles of speculation in the historical sciences. Finally, I argue that it provides a context-specific and individuated understanding of hypothesis evaluation in the historical sciences. Overall, I think the application of Toulmin schemas to cases of evidential reasoning in the historical sciences is a promising descriptive and heuristic tool for philosophers of science.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bonnin, Thomas0000-0002-5243-3073
Keywords: Philosophy of the Historical Sciences; Evidential Reasoning; Toulmin; Evolutionary Biology; Archezoa; Theory-ladenness
Subjects: General Issues > Data
Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
Depositing User: Dr. Thomas Bonnin
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2019 14:46
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2019 14:46
Item ID: 15597
Subjects: General Issues > Data
Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
Date: 17 January 2019
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15597

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