The Logic of History: Putting Postmodernism in Perspective

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Psychology Press, 2004 - History - 212 pages
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The Logic of History reveals the rational basis for historians' descriptions, interpretations and explanations of past events. C. Behan McCullagh defends the practice of history as more reliable than has recently been acknowledged. Historians, he argues, make their accounts of the past as fair as they can and avoid misleading their readers. He explains and discusses postmodern criticisms of history, providing students and teachers of history with a renewed validation of their practice. McCullagh takes the history debate to a new stage with bold replies to the major questions historians face today.

 

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Contents

The possibility of historical knowledge
5
Theories of truth
6
Some common reasons for scepticism
14
Conclusion
16
The meanings of texts actions and events
18
Problems about knowing the meanings of texts
21
The meaning of actions events and practices in history
37
Justifying descriptions of the past
43
Commonsense narratives
106
Colligatory patterns
106
Summary interpretations
114
Conclusion
119
Judging historical interpretations
120
Fairness
126
The intelligibility of historical interpretations
132
Causes and conditions in history
134

Justifying descriptions of single events
45
Lawlike regularities
54
Accidental generalizations
59
Descriptions of social structures
63
Conclusion
69
Causes of human actions
70
Mental causes of human actions
71
Cultural and social causes of human actions
99
Conclusion
113
Types of historical narrative
102
Checking out particular causes and conditions
140
Checking necessary and sufficient conditions by judging generalizations
147
Historical explanations
152
Genetic and contrastive explanations of individual actions
154
Profound explanations
159
Structural explanations
166
Conclusion
175
References
177
Name index
189
Subject index
193

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About the author (2004)

C. Behan McCullagh is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at La Trobe University.

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