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Journal Article

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? JUBILEE REPORT ON "HISTORY AND THEORY"

AVIEZER TUCKER
History and Theory
Vol. 49, No. 4, Theme Issue 49: History and Theory: The Next Fifty Years (December 2010), pp. 64-84
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41300050
Page Count: 21
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WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? JUBILEE REPORT ON "HISTORY AND THEORY"
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Abstract

Progress in understanding, clarifying, forming, and devising methods for analyzing, eliminating, or resolving the problems of the philosophies of history and historiography requires integration with other branches of philosophy such as metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mind, and ethics. Conversely, mainstream philosophical theories would benefit from confronting the problems of the philosophies of history and historiography. Solving the problems of the philosophies of historiography and history requires considering historiography as continuous with philosophy. This approach is exemplified by examining metaphysical issues in the philosophy of history– historical contingency, necessity, determination, causation, over-determination, and under-determination–as well as investigating the epistemology of testimony for its relevance to the epistemology of our knowledge of the past. Inference from multiple testimonies is a particular case of a general model of inference, one in which scientists infer a common cause from multiple sources of evidence that preserve similar information about their common causes. The historical sciences–history, phylogeny, evolutionary biology, comparative historical linguistics, and cosmology–all infer common causes or origins. The theoretical sciences are not interested in any particular token event, but in types of events, whereas, in contrast, the historical sciences attempt to infer common-cause tokens. The main reasons for the absence of decisive progress in the philosophy of historiography along the promising directions the article outlines are external: random, adverse institutional and market conditions that block the professionalization of the field.

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