Philosophy of History

Authored by: Paul A. Roth

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138825758
eBook ISBN: 9781315410098
Adobe ISBN: 9781315410081

10.4324/9781315410098.ch34

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Abstract

If one were to construct a type of genealogical chart, it would show analytic philosophy of history as the runt of a litter of topics sprung from philosophy of science in its youth. 1 Birth could plausibly be dated with the publication of Carl Hempel’s classic article, “The Function of General Laws in History” (Hempel 1942). There Hempel stipulates as a condition for the scientific/logical adequacy of historical explanations that they contain a covering law. Absent some law or law-like connection between the explanandum statement and those serving as explanantia, historical explanations constitute at best “explanation sketches.” Notoriously, this did not just imply that historians simply needed to logically tidy up their presentations. Rather, inasmuch as historians had no laws to insert, they had no genuine explanations on offer.

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