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History, Value, and Irreplaceability

Erich Hatala Matthes
Ethics
Vol. 124, No. 1 (October 2013), pp. 35-64
DOI: 10.1086/671389
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/671389
Page Count: 30
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History, Value, and Irreplaceability
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Abstract

It is often assumed that there is a necessary relationship between historical value and irreplaceability, and that this is an essential feature of historical value’s distinctive character. Contrary to this assumption, I argue that it is a merely contingent fact that some historically valuable things are irreplaceable, and that irreplaceability is not a distinctive feature of historical value at all. Rather, historically significant objects, from heirlooms to artifacts, offer us an otherwise impossible connection with the past, a value that persists even in the face of suitable replacements.

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