Darwin-L Message Log 4:76 (December 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<4:76>From WILLS@macc.wisc.edu  Sun Dec 19 14:43:21 1993

Date: Sun, 19 Dec 93 14:44 CDT
From: Jeffrey Wills <WILLS@macc.wisc.edu>
Subject: Greenberg, Renfrew, Ruhlen, proto-World
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

	Sally Thomason does a great service in rounding out the picture on
recent publications and conferences on the various proto-World hypotheses. She
is right, as always, that there is more discussion out there than just Sci.
Amer., enough in fact that I for one stopped collecting it all.
	Why did I stop collecting? Because it seemed that there was no debate,
no progressive argumentation between contradictory assumptions.  My question
for Sally would be whether she thinks there has been some progress. As someone
who has followed this closely, how does she read our present location on the
Kuhnian roadmap? Has someone's mind been changed, position shifted, refutation
accepted? Like her, I feel that progress will/should be made in more
specialized fora, but is that happening? Has even Don Ringe's book or that of
Johanna Nichols reshaped the debate? Or more fundamentally is there even a
debate, in the optimistic sense of the word? One benefit surely is that
historical linguists have returned to examining their methods and assumptions
with more gusto than has been seen since the days of Meillet and Paul. But, as
a field, does a time come when we should stop holding conferences and giving
publicity to errant intransigents?
	Clearly I am too impatient, but I worry that this has become too much
like the creationist/evolutionary theories "debate". Or have I also missed the
fruitful by-products of that on-going affair?

	Jeffrey Wills

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