The future of the philosophy of historiography

History and Theory 40 (1):37–56 (2001)
This article argues that the perception of decline among philosophers of history reflects the diffused weak academic status of the discipline, as distinct from the booming research activity and demand for philosophy of history that keeps pace with the growth rate of publications in the philosophies of science and law. This growth is justified and rational because the basic problems of the philosophy of history, concerning the nature of historiographical knowledge and the metaphysical assumptions of historiography, have maintained their relevance. Substantive philosophy of history has an assured popularity but is not likely to win intellectual respectability because of its epistemic weaknesses. I suggest focusing on problems that a study of historiography can help to understand and even solve, as distinct from problems that cannot be decided by an examination of historiography, such as the logical structure of explanation (logical positivism) and the relation between language and reality (post-structuralism). In particular, following Quine's naturalized epistemology, I suggest placing the relation between evidence and historiography at the center of the philosophy of historiography. Inspired by the philosophy of law, I suggest there are three possible relations between input (evidence) and output in historiography: determinism, indeterminism, and underdeterminism. An empirical examination of historiographical agreement, disagreement, and failure to communicate may indicate which relation holds at which parts of historiography. The historiographical community seeks consensus, but some areas are subject to disagreements and absence of communication; these are associated with historiographical schools that interpret conflicting models of history differently to fit their evidence. The reasons for this underdetermination of historiography by evidence needs to be investigated further
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/0018-2656.00151
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,305
External links
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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

26 ( #182,875 of 1,932,568 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #456,397 of 1,932,568 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.