PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Visualization, Narrative, and Historical Data: Paleontology in the 19th Century

Analysis and presentation of historical data (data which illuminates historical phenomena) presents a special epistemological challenge. Since history is generally understood as a narrative, analytical results of based on historical data are usually presented in narrative format. However, numerical data does not lend itself easily to narrative presentation. For this reason, most practitioners of historical sciences have developed visualization techniques for rendering numerical historical data into visual form. This paper will explore the introduction of such techniques in paleontology during the 19th century, and will reflect on the epistemological assumptions of such approaches.

Author Information:

David Sepkoski    
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


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