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Objectivity in History

Abstract

Many philosophers have rejected the possibility of objective historical knowledge on the grounds that there is no given past against which to judge rival interpretations. There reasons for doing so are valid. But this does not demonstrate that we must give up the concept of historical objectivity as such. The purpose of this paper is to define a concept of objectivity based on criteria of comparison, not on a given past. Objective interpretations are those which best meet rational criteria of accuracy, comprehensiveness, consistency, progressiveness, fruitfulness, and openness. Finally, the nature of our being in the world is shown to give us a good reason to regard such objective interpretations as moving towards a regulative ideal of truth.

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