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Continuing the work of the ‘Vienna Circle’, philosopher Carl Hempel created explanatory models to ground scientific inquiry in logic and empirical truth. Beginning with the physical sciences, he explored the application of these models to the social sciences as well. Terrestrial archaeologists incorporated Hempelian concepts by calling for global changes in archaeological methodology. These changes, explicitly designed to maximize data collection (a necessary first step to develop archaeological general laws crucial to Hempelian explanation and confirmation), were developed using particular idiosyncratic geographical cues that would undermine archaeology if implemented in other contexts. In this article, I argue that similarly unconscious artifacts of particular archaeologists’ goals and locations have also governed underwater archaeology’s growth as a discipline, much to its detriment. It is my hope that understanding the philosophical and archaeological issues that have led archaeology to this point will help to move archaeology (both land and sea) forward.

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© 2012 by the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science. All rights reserved.