David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
History and Theory 51 (2):172-192 (2012)
The use of general and universal laws in historiography has been the subject of debate ever since the end of the nineteenth century. Since the 1970s there has been a growing consensus that general laws such as those in the natural sciences are not applicable in the scientific writing of history. We will argue against this consensus view, not by claiming that the underlying conception of what historiography is—or should be—is wrong, but by contending that it is based on a misconception of what general laws such as those of the natural sciences are. We will show that a revised notion of law, one inspired by the work of Sandra D. Mitchell, in tandem with Jim Woodward’s notion of “invariance,” is indeed applicable to historiography, much in the same way as it is to most other scientific disciplines. Having developed a more adequate account of general laws, we then show, by means of three examples, that what are called “pragmatic laws” and “invariance” do in fact play a role in history in several interesting ways. These examples—from cultural history, economic history, and the history of religion—have been selected on the basis of their diversity in order to illustrate the widespread use of pragmatic laws in history.
|Keywords||pragmatic laws invariance causation historical explanation stability laws in historiography|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Jim Woodward (2001). Law and Explanation in Biology: Invariance is the Kind of Stability That Matters. Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-20.
Carl Hammer (2008). Explication, Explanation, and History. History and Theory 47 (2):183–199.
Marc Lange (1999). Laws, Counterfactuals, Stability, and Degrees of Lawhood. Philosophy of Science 66 (2):243-267.
Holly Andersen (2011). Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities. Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.
Marc Lange (2005). Laws and Their Stability. Synthese 144 (3):415Ð432.
Leon J. Goldstein (1967). Theory in History. Philosophy of Science 34 (1):23-40.
Bert Leuridan (2010). Can Mechanisms Really Replace Laws of Nature? Philosophy of Science 77 (3):317-340.
Anton Froeyman (2009). Concepts of Causation in Historiography. Historical Methods 42 (3):116-128.
James Woodward (1992). Realism About Laws. Erkenntnis 36 (2):181-218.
Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer, Achim Mittag & Jörn Rüsen (eds.) (2005). Historical Truth, Historical Criticism, and Ideology: Chinese Historiography and Historical Culture From a New Comparative Perspective. Brill.
Marc Lange (1999). Why Are the Laws of Nature so Important to Science? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (3):625-652.
Added to index2012-06-07
Total downloads10 ( #148,332 of 1,102,700 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #120,386 of 1,102,700 )
How can I increase my downloads?