One, which Gould designated as “substantive,” makes ontological claims about the world, in that presumptions are made about how nature actually is, e.g., its processes change relatively slowly
and are uniform over time and space. The other class of claims is methodological, in that injunctions or suggestions are made, Epigenetics inhibitor based on present-day observations, to apply that present-day process understanding to conditions in the past (or future). In their recent paper Knight and Harrison (2014) observe that substantive uniformitarianism, which they define as “the Principle of Uniformitarianism” or as “the ‘strong’ principle or doctrine developed by Hutton and later by Lyell” (Camandi, 1999), has been largely discredited by Gould (1965) and others. They note that the many previous criticisms of uniformitarianism have focused on the research approach rather than on the research object. They define the latter as “Earth’s physical systems,” and they claim that this, “…cannot be meaningfully investigated using a uniformitarian approach Because uniformitarianism click here was formulated prior to the understanding of Earth in “systems” terms, it is well to be clear in what is meant by the latter. A “system” is a structured set of objects and relationships among those objects. Is Earth the exact same thing as
“Earth systems” (e.g., Baker, 1996a)? Earth systems involve those structures that scientists deem to SPTLC1 represent what is important for being monitored, modeled, etc. in order to generate predictions. Earth itself has much more complexity (with humans or without) to be studied in its complete totality without some simplification
into what its human interpreters designate as its “systems.” Physical scientists do not measure everything because such a task would be impossible. Physicists, in particular, measure what they deem to be critical for achieving a system-based understanding. The deductions that can be made (they are loosely termed “predictions”) from this understanding (physical theory) are only possible because assumptions have been made so that results can then be deduced from those assumptions. These assumptions include whatever gets chosen to constitute the “system” to be monitored, modeled, etc. Defining the methodological form of uniformitarianism as “the weak viewpoint that observations of those processes operating upon the Earth can be used to interpret processes and products of the geological past, and vice versa,” Knight and Harrison (2014) offer the following reasons to reject uniformitarianism (with systems-related terms highlighted in bold): 1. “…it does not account for the dominant role of human activity in substantively changing the behavior of all Earth systems, and the significant and very rapid rates of change under anthropogenic climate forcing.