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Behavioural Modernity, Investigative Disintegration & Rubicon Expectation

Meneganzin, Andra and Currie, Adrian (2021) Behavioural Modernity, Investigative Disintegration & Rubicon Expectation. [Preprint]

Rubicon Expectation & Behavioral Modernity Preprint.pdf

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‘Behavioural modernity’ isn’t what it used to be. Once conceived as an integrated package of traits demarcated by a clear archaeological signal in a specific time and place, it is now disparate, archaeologically equivocal, and temporally and spatially spread. In this paper we trace behavioural modernity’s empirical and theoretical developments over the last three decades, as surprising discoveries in the material record, as well the reappraisal of old evidence, drove increasingly sophisticated demographic, social and cultural models of behavioural modernity. We argue, however, that some approaches to identifying and categorizing modernity have not kept up with this new picture. This is due to what we term ‘Rubicon expectations’: classificatory and interpretive practices which look for or assume clear demarcations in behavioural and cultural processes.
We develop a philosophical account of ‘investigative disintegration’ to capture how our understanding of behavioural modernity has changed, and how Rubicon-based practices have become inadequate. Disintegration, in the form we analyse, occurs when scientists’ conception of a phenomenon shifts sufficiently to reshape an investigation’s epistemic structure. For behavioural modernity, the explanatory weight which once lay on identifying ‘switch-points’ in the innate suite of hominin cognitive capacities, lies now in understanding the social and demographic environments that were capable of sustaining and nourishing more complex material cultures. Finally, we argue that the phenomenon itself has not disintegrated to the point that we are left with no interesting explanandum: for all its mosaic, disparate nature, there are still good reasons for behavioural modernity to retain its central place in investigation of our species’ origins.

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Item Type: Preprint
Meneganzin, Andra0000-0003-3641-3803
Currie, Adrian0000-0003-2638-202X
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Archaeology
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr Adrian Currie
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2021 04:38
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2021 04:38
Item ID: 19787
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Archaeology
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2021

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