The debate on the origins of modern humans is one of the oldest and most controversial in the field of palaeoanthropology. In the 1860s the debate was established in the evolutionary context and, as a conflict between two major schools and various sub-schools, it has continued up until the present day. The opposing schools were and still are, at best, in only partial alignment on the major scientific issues. Each of them is founded in its own metaphysics and focuses on an exclusive set of observations that it is capable of explaining. It would appear, therefore, that the history and present state of modern human origins research may be interpreted, in terms of Kuhn's philosophy of science, as an example of a pre-paradigm scientific dispute. This interpretation shows the immaturity of modern human origins research and calls for the re-examination of palaeoanthropology's basic theoretical propositions as well as of this science's controversial relationship with the society.