Historiographic narratives and empirical evidence: a case study

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Abstract
Several scholars observed that narratives about the human past are evaluated comparatively. Few attempts have been made, however, to explore how such evaluations are actually done. Here I look at a lengthy “contest” among several historiographic narratives, all constructed to make sense of another one—the biblical story of the conquest of Canaan. I conclude that the preference of such narratives can be construed as a rational choice. In particular, an easily comprehensible and emotionally evocative narrative will give way to a complex and mundane one, when the latter provides a more coherent account of the consensually accepted body of evidence. This points to a fundamental difference between historiographic narratives and fiction, contrary to some influential opinions in the philosophy of historiography. Such historiographic narratives have similarities with hypotheses and narrative explanations in natural science.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-02065-w
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (58):158-161.
Aspects of Scientific Explanation.Carl G. Hempel - 1965 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 37 (4):747-749.
The Web of Belief.W. V. O. Quine & J. S. Ullian - 1970 - New York: Random House.
Narrative Explanation.J. David Velleman - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (1):1-25.

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