Blogpost on Epistemological Reality

In the historical disciplines, we are dealing with things in the past, and since we cannot travel back in time, we necessarily make hypotheses about events which we cannot verify or falsify. So in some sense the proto-languages we reconstruct are some kind of "scientific fiction" ("wissenschaftliche fiction"), as Johannes Schmidt pointed out in 1872. Nevertheless, we usually have some confidence in our reconstructions, despite the fact that we keep changing, updating, and refining them.

These questions are discussed in more detail in a blogpost I just wrote for David Morrison's blog on "The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks, and which you may find here.