Justifying Historical Descriptions
In common with history, all the social sciences crucially rely on descriptions of the past for their evidence. But when, if ever, is it reasonable to regard such descriptions as true? This book attempts to establish the conditions that warrant belief in historical descriptions. It does so in a non-technical way, analysing numerous illustrations of the different kinds of argument about the past employed by historians and others. The author concludes that no historical description can be finally proved, and that we are only ever justified in believing them for certain practical purposes. This central question has not been addressed in such a thorough and systematic manner before. It draws on recent philosophy of history and will interest philosophers. But the wealth of material and accessibility of the presentation will also make it very valuable for historians and other social scientists concerned with the logic of their disciplines.
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A. J. P. Taylor accepted action analogy argued arguments from criteria assumptions Bayes Theorem behaviour beliefs best explanation Britain causal judgements causal relation circumstances clearly Collingwood conclusion context contingently necessary counterfactual degree described disconfirmed discussion Donagan economic effect empiricist event evidence example existence explanandum explanatory scope expressed fact false Fogel forms of inference gelignite generaliz historians historical descriptions historical inferences hypothesis illocutionary force imply important cause instances intentions interest interpretation judge justification conditions justified kind king knowledge language large number law-like laws means ments methods Michael Scriven Murphey observations occurred past person political population possible precisely probability produced question rational reason reference class relevant reliable responsible rules sample Scriven sense sentence significance social society sometimes statements statistical inferences statistical syllogism sufficient suggested theory things tion Tirel true truth conditions variables Walter Tirel warrant William of Poitiers words