Through the Gates of Logic, into the Middle of… what?


For several decades, middle ranged theories in archaeology have generally been understood and applied as a set of rhetorical and analogical linkages between the archaeological record and interpretive hypotheses of behaviors. Epistemologically, however, "middle range" has broader implications than this relatively narrow archaeological application. As a relative positioning, middle range denotes establishment of logical linking arguments between evidence and inferred or hypothetical context irrespective of theoretical scale. Archaeologically, these typically relate to inverse trajectories of causality (i.e., from effect to cause), but have potential be much more than mere methodological steps or analogies between field data and conclusions. Properly conceived, middle ranged theories should link data, through explicit or inferred causal mechanisms and sets of observations, to broad or generalized theoretical abstractions. The latter step has traditionally been difficult to achieve with contemporary social theory as it is engaged and applied by archaeologists, leading to a broad disgruntlement with higher-level social theory and abstractions. We propose that this has been, in part, due to the overly narrow and insufficient applications of formal logic to middle-ranged linkages beyond the methodological scale, and present a suggested restructuring of archaeological middle range for identifying reasonable inferences at higher scales.

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Through the Gates of Logic, into the Middle of… what?. J. Scott Cardinal, Jennifer Loughmiller-Cardinal. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430610)

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Abstract Id(s): 17389