Excavation in the Sky: Historical Inference in Astronomy

Philosophy of Science 90 (5):1385-1395 (2023)
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The philosophy of historical sciences investigates their distinct objects of study, epistemic challenges, and methodological solutions. Rethinking astronomy in this light offers a contribution. First, the methodology of historical sciences adds to a more adequate description of how astronomers study and utilize token events. Second, astronomy faces a typical difficulty in identifying traces of some past events and has developed a delicate solution. This enriches the idea of trace and suggests a methodology that relies on iterations between data-driven approaches and theory-driven approaches, together with the cross-validation between multiple relevant historical events or datasets.

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Siyu Yao
Indiana University, Bloomington


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