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Summary People have long sought to give meaning to historical processes. One solution has been religion; engagement with associated philosophical issues continues. Since the Enlightenment with its “scientific” understanding history has been disciplinised in various ways as unassociated with religion; philosophical reflections by historians on historiographical methods also continue. For twentieth-century analytical philosophy there were two traditions in philosophy of history: “speculative” and “analytical”. A speculative philosopher of history, for example Hegel or Marx, would seek by non-empirical methods a profound understanding of the hitherto hidden plan of actual historical change and would offer a political ideology suitable for mass motivation; such speculations continue. Analytical philosophers initially addressed problems of historical knowledge and explanation, but much has migrated to the philosophies of science and of action. With Continental, post-Wittgenstein and pragmatic approaches permitting the historicising of philosophical analysis, metaphilosophical problems of the history and philosophy of history remain; the aesthetic understanding of “narrative” and the ethics of the recovery of shared memory are central. Philosophers and historians across the world often work in ignorance of the traditions of their many opponents, but the first conference of the International Network for the Theory of History attracted in 2013 a large and varied attendance which found much to share, although philosophy of history has not yet settled into an analytically well-structured discipline.
Key works Four journals in the subject should be perused: History and Theory, Storia della Storiografia, Rethinking History and The Journal of the Philosophy of History. For a clear logical empiricist expression of causal explanation in history see Hempel 1942, with Collingwood 1993 and Dray 1979 expressing noncausal modes of understanding past actions.  Skinner 1969 applies speech act theory to the history of ideas and the interpretation of evidence.  Danto 1968 takes narrative seriously and offers a largely reductionist account, while Gorman 1974 and Ankersmit 1983 argue in different ways for the epistemological centrality of narrative understanding.  White 1973 and 1987 argues that narrative history is a literary artefact with poetic modes of structure and sets much of the modern agenda.  Tucker 2004 offers an analytical account of reasoning from historical evidence in terms of Bayesian decision theory.
Introductions Day 2008 is a study guide that assesses the arguments of major philosophers and historians who have contributed to the theory of history. It is suitable for undergraduate students in both philosophy and history, and deals with historical evidence, methodology and reasoning; the relationships between history, science and causation; narrative, empathy and rational action; truth, objectivity and scepticism. Gorman 1992 is intended for both undergraduate and postgraduate philosophy and history students. It deals with fundamental issues in the epistemology and metaphysics of history from an analytical and pragmatic viewpoint, and offers a detailed analysis comparing economic history and traditional narrative history. Tucker 2009 contains 50 papers by international experts on a wide range of issues in the theory of history. Jenkins 1995 helpfully introduces postmodern approaches.
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Siblings:History/traditions: Philosophy of History
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  1. A. A. A. A. (1986). Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, Symbol of His Age. Modern Interpretations of a Renaissance Philosopher. By William G. Craven. [REVIEW] History and Theory 25 (1):113.
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  2. C. A. C. A. (1985). Historians and the Law in Postrevolutionary France. By Donald R. Kelley. [REVIEW] History and Theory 24 (2):231.
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  3. D. A. D. A. (1983). The Origin of Formalism in Social Science. By Jeffrey T. Bergner. [REVIEW] History and Theory 22 (1):101.
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  4. R. A. R. A. (1981). The Revolutionary Histories. Contemporary Narratives of the American Revolution. By Lester H. Cohen. [REVIEW] History and Theory 20 (2):234.
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  5. W. A. W. A. (1983). A Functional Past. The Uses of History in Nineteenth-Century Chile. By Allen Woll. [REVIEW] History and Theory 22 (1):104.
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  6. Hans Aarsleff (2012). Pufendorf and Condillac on Law and Language. Journal of the Philosophy of History 5 (3):308-321.
    Abstract This essay argues that Pufendorf conceived the principles of natural law against the rationalism and innatism of the 17th century, and that Condillac similarly formulated a conception of the human origin of language, both of them thus securing open and human foundations for the two primal institutions of law and language, and also making all citizens free agents in the ordering of communal living.
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  7. Oscar Moro Abadía (2008). Beyond the Whig History Interpretation of History: Lessons on 'Presentism' From Hélène Metzger. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):194-201.
    During the second half of the twentieth century, historians of science have shown a considerable interest in ‘presentism’, a term first applied to the kind of history of science in which past knowledge is judged to celebrate and legitimize modern science. Taking Herbert Butterfield’s The Whig interpretation of history as a point of reference, ‘presentism’ has been usually associated with ‘Whig history’ or ‘Whiggish history’. Nevertheless, Butterfield’s essay is one of many approaches to this question. In this article, I examine (...)
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  8. Janet Lippman Abu-Lughod (1995). The World-System Perspective in the Construction of Economic History. History and Theory 34 (2):86-98.
    This essay examines the experience of rewriting historical narratives from a world-system perspective, drawing on the author's attempt to construct an integrated image of the world economy in the thirteenth century. Searching for an intermediate epistemological path between unanchored postmodern hermeneutics and overconfident positivism, the author argues that three apparent deviations from the "ideals of positivist social science," which she ironically labels eccentricity, ideology, and idiosyncrasy, can yield significant "remakings" of world history. Eccentricity, namely, recognizing perspectives other than those that (...)
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  9. David Abulafia (2011). 4. Mediterranean History as Global History. History and Theory 50 (2):220-228.
    Mediterranean history, and the history of other closed seas, is seen here as the experience of those who traversed the sea and arrived as decentered aliens on the other side. Mainly these have been men, with merchants generally as pioneers who introduced the goods, ideas, and religion of one region to another. From antiquity onwards, port cities such as Carthage, Alexandria, Smyrna, and Livorno acted as links among the three continents facing the Mediterranean, and visitors from other lands were sometimes (...)
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  10. Sapir Abulafia, Howard Hotson & Richard A. Muller (2010). bOOkS IN SUmmary. History and Theory 49 (2):447-450.
    James A. Diefenbeck, Wayward Reflections on the History ofPhilosophyThomas R. Flynn Sartre, Foucault and Historical Reason. Volume 1:Toward an Existential Theory of HistoryMark Golden and Peter Toohey Inventing Ancient Culture:Historicism, Periodization and the Ancient WorldZenonas Norkus Istorika: Istorinis IvadasEverett Zimmerman The Boundaries of Fiction: History and theEighteenth‐Century British Novel.
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  11. A. M. Adam (2000). Book Review: The What and the Why of History. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (1):131-140.
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  12. A. M. Adam (1999). On the Methods of History. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 29 (2):315-324.
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  13. A. M. Adam (1995). Book Reviews : R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History. Rev. Ed., Edited and with a New Introduction by J. Van der Dussen, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993. Pp. Xlvii, 510. $108.00 (Cloth. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 25 (2):256-258.
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  14. A. M. Adam (1994). Book Reviews : Leon Pompa, Human Nature and Historical Knowledge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Pp. 234. $44.50. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 24 (2):250-252.
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  15. Walter A. Adamson (1980). WILLIAM A. SHAW, "Marx's Theory of History". [REVIEW] History and Theory 19 (2):186.
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  16. Robert Adcock (2007). Who's Afraid of Determinism? The Ambivalence of Macro-Historical Inquiry. Journal of the Philosophy of History 1 (3):346-364.
    This paper explores explanatory practices of macro-historical social science in light of philosophical stances on determinism versus indeterminism. Analysis of determinism and its implications show its compatibility with practices emphasizing causal complexity, contingency, and choice. It can, moreover, clarify and contain these practices in ways that extend the priority traditionally given to causal explanation by macro-historical social scientists. Analysis of indeterminism shows, by contrast, that each of its major varieties challenge macro-historical explanatory practices. To embrace indeterminism and follow through its (...)
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  17. Laird Addis (1966). Freedom and the Marxist Philosophy of History. Philosophy of Science 33 (1/2):101-.
    Many believe that the Marxist philosophy of history entails that man is not free in a sense in which it seems obvious that he is. In particular it is held to be (1) materialistic, (2) holistic, (3) economistic, and (4) fatalistic. It is claimed, in short, that since the Marxist philosophy of history has these features, man is not capable of shaping his own (social) destiny if it is true. I show for each of these features either that it does (...)
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  18. Madhumalati Adhikari (2002). History and Story: Unconventional History in Michael Ondaatje's the English Patient and James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. History and Theory 41 (4):43–55.
    “Literary history” is a cross between conventional history and pure fiction. The resulting hybrid provides access to history that the more conventional sort does not . This claim is demonstrated by an analysis of two novels about World War II, The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, and Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener. These two very different novels in English are by writers themselves very different from each other, writers from different times, different social and political backgrounds, and (...)
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  19. Virginia H. Aksan (2008). Theoretical Ottomans. History and Theory 47 (1):109–122.
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  20. James Alexander (2012). Three Rival Views of Tradition (Arendt, Oakeshott and MacIntyre). Journal of the Philosophy of History 6 (1):20-43.
    If we define tradition too hastily we leave to one side the question of what the relevance of tradition is for us. Here the concept of tradition is opened up by considering the different views of it taken by Hannah Arendt, Michael Oakeshott and Alasdair MacIntyre. We see that each has put tradition into a fully developed picture of what our predicament is in modernity; and that each has differed in their assessment of what our relation to tradition is or (...)
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  21. Anna Alexandrova (2009). Brill Online Books and Journals. Journal of the Philosophy of History 3 (1).
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  22. Anna Alexandrova (2009). When Analytic Narratives Explain. Journal of the Philosophy of History 3 (1):1-24.
    Rational choice modeling originating in economics is sweeping across many areas of social science. This paper examines a popular methodological proposal for integrating formal models from game theory with more traditional narrative explanations of historical phenomena, known as “analytic narratives”. Under what conditions are we justified in thinking that an analytic narrative provides a good explanation? In this paper I criticize the existing criteria and provide a set of my own. Along the way, I address the critique of analytic narratives (...)
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  23. George Allan (1983). DALE H. PORTER, "The Emergence of the Past: A Theory of Historical Explanation". [REVIEW] History and Theory 22 (1):83.
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  24. George Allan (1975). Croce's Theory of Historical Judgment. Modern Schoolman 52 (2):169-187.
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  25. Barry Allen (2006). A History Without the History. History and Theory 45 (1):134–146.
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  26. Barry Allen (2003). Another New Nietzsche. History and Theory 42 (3):363–377.
  27. Barry Allen (1997). The Soul of Knowledge. History and Theory 36 (1):63-82.
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  28. George Allen (1989). ERROL E. HARRIS, "The Reality of Time". [REVIEW] History and Theory 28 (3):348.
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  29. J. S. Allen (2003). William M. Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions. History and Theory 42 (1):82-93.
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  30. James Smith Allen (2003). Navigating the Social Sciences: A Theory for the Meta–History of Emotions. History and Theory 42 (1):82–93.
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  31. Felix Alluntis (1955). The "Vital and Historical Reason" of José Ortega y Gasset. Franciscan Studies 15 (1):60-78.
  32. J. M. Alonso-Núñez (1984). D. A. Dombrowski: Plato's Philosophy of History. Pp. Viii + 217. Washington: University Press of America, 1981. Paper. The Classical Review 34 (02):334-.
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  33. Mariano Alvarez-Gómez, Paredes Martín & María del Carmen (eds.) (2009). La Filosofía de la Historia a Partir de Hegel. Universidad de Salamanca.
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  34. Robert Anchor (2000). Whose Autopoiesis? History and Theory 39 (1):107–116.
    Book reviewed in this article: Die Lineatur Der Geschichte, by Kurt Röttgers.
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  35. Robert Anchor (1999). The Quarrel Between Historians and Postmodernists. [REVIEW] History and Theory 38 (1):111–121.
    Book reviewed in this article: Konstruktion der Vergangenheit: Eine Einführung in die Geschichts‐theorie By Chris Lorenz. Translated from Dutch by Annegret Böttner with Introduction by Jörn Rüsen.
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  36. Sharon Anderson-Gold (1994). Kant's Ethical Anthropology and the Critical Foundations of the Philosophy of History. History of Philosophy Quarterly 11 (4):405 - 419.
  37. Sharon Anderson-Gold (1982). Cultural Pluralism and Ethical Community in Kant's Philosophy of History. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 9 (1):67-78.
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  38. György Andrássy (1983). Marx's Philosophy of History and Hegel's Logic: (Parallels). Pécsi Janus Pannonius Tudományegyetem Állam- És Jogtudományui Kara.
  39. N. B. Andrënov (2005). O Mekhanizmakh Istorii. Sputnik+.
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  40. A. Ė Anisimova (2009). "Novyĭ Istorizm": Naukovedcheskiĭ Analiz: Monografii͡a.
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  41. F. Ankersmit (1988). Review Essay of J. Rü Sen's Grundzü Ge Einer Historik II. History and Theory 27:81-94.
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  42. F. R. Ankersmit (2012). Meaning, Truth, and Reference in Historical Representation. Cornell University Press.
    Historicism -- Time -- Interpretation -- Representation -- Reference -- Truth -- Meaning -- Presence -- Experience (I) -- Experience (II) -- Subjectivity -- Politics.
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  43. F. R. Ankersmit (2006). 3. "Presence" and Myth. History and Theory 45 (3):328–336.
    There are no dictionary meanings or authoritative discussions of "presence" that fix the significance of this word in a way that ought to be accepted by anybody using it. So we are in the welcome possession of great freedom to maneuver when using the term. In fact, the only feasible requirement for its use is that it should maximally contribute to our understanding of the humanities. When trying to satisfy this requirement I shall relate "presence" to representation. Then I focus (...)
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  44. F. R. Ankersmit (2005). Sublime Historical Experience. Stanford University Press.
    Why are we interested in history at all? Why do we feel the need to distinguish between past and present? In this book, the author argues that the past originates from an experience of rupture separating past and present. Think of the radical rupture with Europe's past that was effected by the French and the Industrial Revolutions. Sublime Historical Experience investigates how the notion of sublime historical experience complicates and challenges existing conceptions of language, (...)
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  45. F. R. Ankersmit (2004). The Ethics of History: From the Double Binds of (Moral) Meaning to Experience. History and Theory 43 (4):84-102.
    The point of departure of this essay is a paradox in traditional conceptions of historical objectivity. This paradox can best be analyzed in terms of the notion of the “double bind”: the requirement of historical objectivity is formulated in such a way that it is impossible to satisfy the requirement. The substance of this essay is an investigation of how J. M. Coetzee deals with the moral impasses of this double bind in his most recent novel, Elizabeth Costello . In (...)
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  46. F. R. Ankersmit (2004). The Ethics of History: From the Double Binds of (Moral) Meaning to Experience. History and Theory 43 (4):84–102.
    The point of departure of this essay is a paradox in traditional conceptions of historical objectivity. This paradox can best be analyzed in terms of the notion of the “double bind”: the requirement of historical objectivity is formulated in such a way that it is impossible to satisfy the requirement. The substance of this essay is an investigation of how J. M. Coetzee deals with the moral impasses of this double bind in his most recent novel, Elizabeth Costello . In (...)
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  47. F. R. Ankersmit (2003). Danto, History, and the Tragedy of Human Existence. History and Theory 42 (3):291–304.
    Philosophy of history is the Cinderella of contemporary philosophy. Philosophers rarely believe that the issues dealt with by philosophers of history are matters of any great theoretical interest or urgency. In their view philosophy of history rarely goes beyond the question of how results that have already been achieved elsewhere can or should be applied to the domain of historical writing. Moreover, contemporary philosophers of history have done desperately little to dispel the low opinion that their colleagues have of them. (...)
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  48. F. R. Ankersmit (2003). An Appeal From the New to the Old Historicists. History and Theory 42 (2):253–270.
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  49. F. R. Ankersmit (2001). The Sublime Dissociation of the Past: Or How to Be(Come) What One is No Longer. History and Theory 40 (3):295–323.
    Forgetting has rarely been investigated in historical theory. Insofar as it attracted the attention of theorists at all, forgetting has ordinarily been considered to be a defect in our relationship to the past that should be overcome in one way or another. The only exception is Nietzsche who so provocatively sung the praises of forgetting in his On the Use and Abuse of History . But Nietzsche's conception is the easy victim of a consistent historicism and therefore in need of (...)
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  50. F. R. Ankersmit (1998). Hayden White's Appeal to the Historians. History and Theory 37 (2):182–193.
    Historians rarely agree with Hayden White's account of their discipline. To a certain extent their dissatisfaction can be explained by the fact that historians customarily distrust historical theory and always tend to look at the historical theorist with the greatest suspicion. But historians find an extra argument for their dislike of White's ideas in his alleged cavalier disregard of how historical facts limit what the historian might wish to say about the past. And, admittedly, this criticism is not wholly unfounded.Nevertheless, (...)
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