Rock Bone and Ruin: An Optimist's Guide to the Historical Sciences, Adrian Currie's philosophical exploration of paleontology, archaeology and geology, has just been released by MIT Press. It is available in hardback and ebook. Adrian discusses the book here.
“Rock, Bone, and Ruin is an extraordinarily ambitious, provocative, and generative treatment of the epistemic predicament of the historical sciences. Adrian Currie trains his philosophical eye on the research strategies of ‘unlucky’ historical scientists—those who contend with messy, incomplete, and opaque traces of the past—and explains how, against the epistemic odds, they establish a robust understanding of seemingly inaccessible geological events, evolutionary processes, and cultural dynamics. This is a nuanced and richly illustrated account of scientists operating under non-ideal circumstances that demonstrates what can be accomplished by taking seriously the turn to practice. It has implications that will be of interest to practitioners and it is an incisive argument for doing philosophy differently: attentive to the epistemic challenges scientists actually face, resolutely local and contextual, and unabashedly normative.”
—Alison Wylie, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia
“The ‘historical’ sciences have been neglected by philosophers. Adrian Currie analyzes both the problems and the opportunities involved in reconstructing and understanding the unobservable deep past. His engaging discussion—ranging from the character of global ice ages through the habits of giant dinosaurs to the meaning of Mayan monuments—explores the surprising commonalities that underlie these superficially diverse sciences.”
—Martin Rudwick, University of Cambridge; author of Earth’s Deep History and Bursting the Limits of Time