The standard interpretation of Lyell's argument strategy in the Principles of Geology turns the actual strategy on its head. Lyell is not arguing for a picture of the earth based upon a priori methodological assumptions, as is usually thought. Rather, he is attempting to ground a geological method upon empirical conclusions he draws about the earth and its past. Lyell's attempt to ground a methodology upon a picture of the earth, rather than the other way around, challenges important assumptions about method and its relation to science.

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