Objectivity or Solidarity? Contemporary Discussions of Pragmatism in History

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
Author: Jong-pil Yoon1
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  • 1 Lecturer, Department of History Education, Korea University, Seoul, South Korea, jpyoon1982@gmail.com

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This essay critically examines contemporary discussions of pragmatism in history. First of all, as for the ‘practice before knowledge’ argument, I point out that historical inquiry cannot be properly explained by the argument whose validity is grounded in the instinct nature of practice because historical research is a contingent, intellectual behavior. About the ‘self-correcting’ argument, I maintain that historical inquiry cannot be rendered self-correcting by the pragmatic test of truth that is, in nature, future-oriented and consequentialist given that the main goal of history is to produce, not predictions or plans of action, but retrospective beliefs, which makes the mechanism of verification through action inapplicable to history. My view on the ‘disciplinary consensus’ argument is that showing how historical beliefs are produced and confirmed within the discipline does not necessarily amount to an explanation of why we should go through the whole process.

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