How do historians, comparative linguists, biblical and textual critics and evolutionary biologists establish beliefs about the past? How do they know the past? This book presents a philosophical analysis of the disciplines that offer scientific knowledge of the past. Using the analytic tools of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science the book covers such topics as evidence, theory, methodology, explanation, determination and underdetermination, coincidence, contingency and counterfactuals in historiography. Aviezer Tucker's central claim is that historiography as a scientific discipline should (...) be thought of as an effort to explain the evidence of past events. He also emphasizes the similarity between historiographic methodology to Darwinian evolutionary biology. This is an important, fresh approach to historiography and will be read by philosophers, historians and social scientists interested in the methodological foundations of their disciplines. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 333 - 348 Philosophers and historians debate not only the correct analysis of historiographic counterfactuals and their possible utilities for historiography and its philosophy but whether they can be more than speculative. This introduction presents the articles in the special issue on historiographic counterfactuals, show how they hang together and what are the main agreements and disagreements among the authors. Finally, it argues that the debate over historiographic counterfactuals spills over now into the (...) debate about applied or practical historiography, what we can learn from historiography. (shrink)
Philosophers have often noted that science displays an uncommon degree of consensus on beliefs among its practitioners. Yet consensus in the sciences is not a goal in itself. I consider cases of consensus on beliefs as concrete events. Consensus on beliefs is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for presuming that these beliefs constitute knowledge. A concrete consensus on a set of beliefs by a group of people at a given historical period may be explained by different factors according (...) to various hypotheses. A particularly interesting hypothesis from an epistemic perspective is the knowledge hypothesis: shared knowledge explains a consensus on beliefs. If all the alternative hypotheses to the knowledge hypotheses are false or are not as good in explaining a concrete consensus on beliefs, the knowledge hypothesis is the best explanation of the consensus. If the knowledge hypothesis is best, a consensus becomes a plausible, though fallible, indicator of knowledge. I argue that if a consensus on beliefs is uncoerced, uniquely heterogeneous and large, the gap between the likelihood of the consensus given the knowledge hypothesis and its likelihoods given competing hypotheses tends to increase significantly. Consensus is a better indicator of knowledge than "success" or "human flourishing". (shrink)
The article presents, develops, and defends a non-reductionist model of the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies. It distinguishes the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies from the transmission of knowledge by a single testimony. The reiteration of the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies generates social knowledge.Critical examination of the literature about the coherence of multiple testimonies, their reliability, and independence argues in particular against conditional and causal interpretations and attempts to overcome the limitations of exclusively conceptual and formal (...) epistemologies. Instead, the article introduces an analysis of the generation of knowledge from multiple testimonies in terms of tracing information flows. The article presents a new three-stage modular model of knowledge generation from multiple testimonies that fits the actual veritistic best practices of institutionally embedded professionals like intelligence analysts, detectives, investigat.. (shrink)
: Science Studies, as developed initially in France attempt to overcome the distinctions between science and society, and correspondingly between the philosophy of science and political and social theory. Science Studies considers the theories and beliefs of scientists political rather than direct reflections of an objective natural world. I consider here Science Studies as a political theory that emerged and has developed in reaction to a particular social and political context, a crisis of technocratic politics in France. Some of the (...) leading contemporary French exponents Science Studies, a group around the journal. (shrink)
The paper explicates unique events and investigates their epistemology. Explications of unique events as individuated, different, and emergent are philosophically uninteresting. Unique events are topics of why-questions that radically underdetermine all their potential explanations. Uniqueness that is relative to a level of scientific development is differentiated from absolute uniqueness. Science eliminates relative uniqueness by discovery of recurrence of events and properties, falsification of assumptions of why-questions, and methodological simplification e.g. by explanatory methodological reduction. Finally, an overview of contemporary philosophical disputes (...) that hinge on issues of uniqueness emphasizes its philosophical significance. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The fifty entries in this _Companion_ cover the main issues in the philosophies of historiography and history, including natural history and the practices of historians. Written by an international and multi-disciplinary group of experts A cutting-edge updated picture of current research in the field Part of the renowned _Blackwell Companions_ series.
Explanations of descriptions of events are undivided, holistic, units of analysis for the purpose of justification. Their justifications are based on the transmission of information about the past and its interpretation and analysis. Further analysis of explanations of descriptions of events is redundant. The “holistic” model of explanations fits better the actual practices of scientists, historians and ordinary people who utter explanatory propositions than competing models. I consider the “inference to the best explanation” model and argue that under one interpretation, (...) it cannot account for all the paradigmatic cases of explanation of description of events that I present, though under another interpretation it fits comfortably with my holistic model. Finally, I argue that there is nothing intrinsic or structural to distinguish holistic explanations of descriptions of events from other hypothetical propositions because the pragmatic context of inquiry may well determine exclusively whether a proposition is considered explanatory. (shrink)
Historians tend to present what they do in terms of prevailing epistemic values that have little to do with their actual practices. Practical knowledge of how does not generate necessarily abstract theoretical knowledge of what . Mark Bevir's The Logic of the History of Ideas attempts to integrate his normative philosophy of historiography with contemporary philosophy of language and epistemology, intentionalist theory of meaning, and coherentist epistemology, on a sophisticated and well-informed level. Yet it is written from the perspective of (...) a particular school and set to normatively defend its research program and assumptions. Sewell's Logics of History is innocent of contemporary epistemology and the philosophies of science and the social sciences, and it shows, mostly in conceptual confusions. Katz's God's Last Words is completely innocent of philosophy, but is still excellent precisely because it makes no theoretical assumption and unreflectively carries on with making sense of the evidence. Key Words: philosophy of historiography philosophy of history intentionalism understanding. (shrink)
Experimental and theoretical studios are reported of the current-voltage characteristics and Josephson radiations from granular Y1Ba2Cu3Oy bridges. We show that the granular structure of bridges can be understood as a series connected independent and inhomogeneous resistively shunted junction army. When we take typical values of junction critical parameters, the experimental results are well understood quantitatively.
Abstract Philosophical defenses of property regimes can be classified as supporting either a conservative politics of property rights?the political protection of existing property titles?or a radical politics of direct political intervention to redistribute property titles. Traditionally, historical considerations were used to legitimize conservative property?rights politics, while consequentialist arguments led to radical politics. Recently, however, the philosophical legitimations have changed places. Conservatives now point to the beneficial economic consequences of something like the current private?property regime, while radicals justify political redistribution as (...) restitution for historical misappropriations. This shift can be explained by such factors as the failure of state?directed redistributions of property during the twentieth century to benefit the poor. But there are limitations to the usefulness of historical arguments for radicals, and of consequentialist arguments for conservatives: namely, the undeserving poor and the idle rich, respectively. (shrink)
I argue against preservationism, the epistemic claim that memories can at most preserve knowledge generated by other basic types of sources. I show how memories can and do generate knowledge that is irreducible to other basic sources of knowledge. In some epistemic contexts, memories are primary basic sources of knowledge; they can generate knowledge by themselves or with trivial assistance from other types of basic sources of knowledge. I outline an ontology of information transmission from events to memory as an (...) alternative to causal theories of memory. I derive from information theory a concept of reliability of memories as the ratio of retrieved information to transmitted information. I distinguish the generation of knowledge from reliable memories from its generation from unreliable memories. Reliable memories can generate new knowledge by forming together narratives and via colligation. Coherent, even unreliable, memories can generate knowledge if they are epistemically independent of each other and the prior probability of the knowledge they generate is sufficiently low or high. Ascertaining the epistemic independence of memories and eliminating possible confounders may be achieved through the generation of knowledge from independent memories in different minds, when memories are primary basic sources of knowledge and the testimonies that report them are trivial. (shrink)
The experience of totalitarianism in its initial revolutionary-terrorist phase and later gray and corrupt terminal stage has generated a distinct tradition of political philosophy and theory among East-Central European dissidents. Much of this tradition has been ignored or misunderstood by thinkers who were ignorant of the social context from which it emerged and who had different concerns. Philosophers who consider the role of political philosophy to be the explication of concepts by drawing utopian blueprints for the reconstitution of societies, find (...) the anti-utopian—indeed, anti-political—philosophy of the dissidents incomprehensible. The dissidents, and by implication their writings, enjoyed some popularity during the…. (shrink)
The topic and methods of David Hume’s "Of Miracles" resemble his historiographical more than his philosophical works. Unfortunately, Hume and his critics and apologists have shared the prescientific, indeed ahistorical, limitations of Hume’s original historical investigations. I demonstrate the advantages of the critical methodological approach to testimonies, developed initially by German biblical critics in the late eighteenth century, to a priori discussions of miracles. Any future discussion of miracles and Hume must use the critical method to improve the quality and (...) relevance of the debate. (edited). (shrink)
In traditional Jewish funerals, beggars usually join family and friends of the deceased in the kaddish prayer. When the funeral service ends, the beggars start chanting their own prayer: Charity will Save from Death! Charity will Save from Death! (sdaka tasil mimavet!). As the dead body of communism is interred in the ground of history, East European intellectuals accompany the funeral march chanting their own version of “Charity will Save from Death” (and political instability, rabid ideologies, xenophobia, war, hunger, and (...) pestilence). The main donor (nadvan) at the funeral of communism is the Hungarian-born financier George Soros. Since Soros does not plan for his philanthropic enterprises to outlive him, East European intellectuals pray for his longevity. (shrink)