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On lawfulness in history and historiography

Bert Leuridan UGent and Anton Froeyman (2012) HISTORY AND THEORY. 51(2). p.172-192
abstract
The use of general and universal laws in historiography has been the subject of debate ever since the end of the nineteenth century. Since the 1970s there has been a growing consensus that general laws such as those in the natural sciences are not applicable in the scientific writing of history. We will argue against this consensus view, not by claiming that the underlying conception of what historiography is-or should be-is wrong, but by contending that it is based on a misconception of what general laws such as those of the natural sciences are. We will show that a revised notion of law, one inspired by the work of Sandra D. Mitchell, in tandem with Jim Woodward's notion of "invariance,"is indeed applicable to historiography, much in the same way as it is to most other scientific disciplines. Having developed a more adequate account of general laws, we then show, by means of three examples, that what are called "pragmatic laws"and "invariance"do in fact play a role in history in several interesting ways. These examples-from cultural history, economic history, and the history of religion-have been selected on the basis of their diversity in order to illustrate the widespread use of pragmatic laws in history.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
laws in historiography, stability, historical explanation, invariance, causation, pragmatic laws, BIOLOGY, MECHANISMS, EXPLANATION, LAWS
journal title
HISTORY AND THEORY
Hist. Theory
volume
51
issue
2
pages
172 - 192
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000303436100002
ISSN
1468-2303
DOI
10.1111/j.1468-2303.2012.00620.x
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
2125879
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2125879
date created
2012-05-31 17:55:05
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:39:04
@article{2125879,
  abstract     = {The use of general and universal laws in historiography has been the subject of debate ever since the end of the nineteenth century. Since the 1970s there has been a growing consensus that general laws such as those in the natural sciences are not applicable in the scientific writing of history. We will argue against this consensus view, not by claiming that the underlying conception of what historiography is-or should be-is wrong, but by contending that it is based on a misconception of what general laws such as those of the natural sciences are. We will show that a revised notion of law, one inspired by the work of Sandra D. Mitchell, in tandem with Jim Woodward's notion of {\textacutedbl}invariance,{\textacutedbl}is indeed applicable to historiography, much in the same way as it is to most other scientific disciplines. Having developed a more adequate account of general laws, we then show, by means of three examples, that what are called {\textacutedbl}pragmatic laws{\textacutedbl}and {\textacutedbl}invariance{\textacutedbl}do in fact play a role in history in several interesting ways. These examples-from cultural history, economic history, and the history of religion-have been selected on the basis of their diversity in order to illustrate the widespread use of pragmatic laws in history.},
  author       = {Leuridan, Bert and Froeyman, Anton},
  issn         = {1468-2303},
  journal      = {HISTORY AND THEORY},
  keyword      = {laws in historiography,stability,historical explanation,invariance,causation,pragmatic laws,BIOLOGY,MECHANISMS,EXPLANATION,LAWS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {172--192},
  title        = {On lawfulness in history and historiography},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2303.2012.00620.x},
  volume       = {51},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Leuridan, Bert, and Anton Froeyman. 2012. “On Lawfulness in History and Historiography.” History and Theory 51 (2): 172–192.
APA
Leuridan, B., & Froeyman, A. (2012). On lawfulness in history and historiography. HISTORY AND THEORY, 51(2), 172–192.
Vancouver
1.
Leuridan B, Froeyman A. On lawfulness in history and historiography. HISTORY AND THEORY. 2012;51(2):172–92.
MLA
Leuridan, Bert, and Anton Froeyman. “On Lawfulness in History and Historiography.” HISTORY AND THEORY 51.2 (2012): 172–192. Print.