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Anthropology, philosophy of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-R042-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

Anthropology, like philosophy, is multifaceted. It studies humans’ physical, social, cultural and linguistic development, as well as their material culture, from prehistoric times up to the present, in all parts of the world. Some anthropological sub-fields have strong ties with the physical and biological sciences; others identify more closely with the social sciences or humanities. Within cultural and social anthropology differing theoretical approaches disagree about whether anthropology can be a science. The question of how it is possible to understand cultures different from one’s own, and to transmit that knowledge to others is central to anthropology because its answer determines the nature of the discipline. Philosophy of anthropology examines the definitions of basic anthropological concepts, the objectivity of anthropological claims and the nature of anthropological confirmation and explanation. It also examines the problems in value theory that arise when anthropologists confront cultures that do not share their own society’s standards.

Citing this article:
Salmon, Merrilee H.. Anthropology, philosophy of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-R042-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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