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Whereas geoscience depends in part on the classical nomological method of the environmental sciences, it is also distinguished by a discrete set of logical procedures that lend themselves to forensic analysis. It has been argued that, as geology is a derivative science, it only partially lives up to the classical model of scientific reasoning. It does, however, provide a model of scientific reasoning based on interpretive techniques and its historical nature. Reasoning in geoscience offers a method that is applicable to the uncertainties and complexities of real-life situations because we are seldom in possession of all the data that we would like in order to make an unbiased or objective decision. The ‘geological’ method, in which we fill the gaps in our knowledge with interpretation and reasonable assumptions, is exemplified by the pragmatism of geological and geomorphological analysis and is herein considered analogous to that undertaken by forensic practitioners. A problem-based learning situation based on a past geological/forensic case study is included to illustrate the approach advocated.

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