Journal of the Philosophy of History 13 (1):107-128 (2019)

Authors
Arthur Alfaix Assis
Universidade de Brasília
Abstract
Cicero once stressed as the first law of history that “the historian must not dare to tell any falsehood.” This precept entails a minimal ethical requirement that remains unscathed by the whirlpools of epistemic relativism that have called many other aspects of professional historians’ practice into question in the last century or so. No commendable scholar seems willing to invalidate Cicero’s first law, and dependable scholarship—whether relying on objectivity-friendly or objectivity-hostile theoretical assumptions—follows shared standards of integrity and accuracy with which someone from Cicero’s time, for instance, would never be able to comply. In this essay, I suggest that those two circumstances should dispose us more favorably toward a refreshed notion of historical objectivity pointing not only to epistemology but also to professional ethics. I address the condemnation of lying and, more generally, historians’ commitment to sincerity as a way to highlight the ethical dimension of history writing. By focusing on the deep but underexplored moral roots of objectivity, I argue that this concept is still very useful as both an analytical tool and a normative ideal. Objectivity, in the sense I underline here, does not stand in opposition to subjectivity—on the contrary, it is actually tied up with subjective dispositions, virtues, and skills that help shape responsible historiography.
Keywords ethics   historical method   lies   truth  historiography
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/18722636-12341350
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 50,217
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

The Role of Trust in Knowledge.John Hardwig - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (12):693-708.
Truth, Objectivity and Evidence in History Writing.Marek Tamm - 2014 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 8 (2):265-290.
Objectivity in History.Mark Bevir - 1994 - History and Theory 33 (3):328-344.
Weak Historicism: On Hierarchies of Intellectual Virtues and Goods.Herman Paul - 2012 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 6 (3):369-388.
From Objectivity to Objectification: Feminist Objections.Mary E. Hawkesworth - 1994 - In Allan Megill (ed.), Rethinking Objectivity. Duke University Press. pp. 151--178.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Dialogue with Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen.Frank Ankersmit - 2017 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 11 (1):38-58.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

BEYOND MODES OF OBJECTIVITY.Robert Albin - 2012 - Logos and Episteme (3):361-371.
Objectivity.Lorraine Daston - 2007 - the Mit Press.
The Ethics of History.David Carr, Thomas Robert Flynn & Rudolf A. Makkreel (eds.) - 2004 - Northwestern University Press.
Narrative and History.Alun Munslow - 2007 - Palgrave-Macmillan.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-06-11

Total views
16 ( #582,535 of 2,324,957 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #671,788 of 2,324,957 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes