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Bruce S. Bennett and Moletlanyi Tshipa

Abstract

The Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) is a theory in physics which proposes that, rather than quantum-level events being resolved randomly as according to the Copenhagen Interpretation, the universe constantly divides into different versions or worlds. All physically possible worlds occur, though some outcomes are more likely than others, and therefore all possible histories exist. This paper explores some implications of this for history, especially concerning causation. Unlike counterfactuals, which concern different starting conditions, MWI concerns different outcomes of the same starting conditions. It is argued that analysis of causation needs to take into account the divergence of outcomes and the possibility that we inhabit a less probable world. Another implication of MWI is convergent history: for any given world there will be similar worlds which are the result of different pasts which are, however, more or less probable. MWI can assist in thinking about historical causation and indicates the importance of probabilistic causation.

Georg Gangl

Abstract

In this paper I argue that historiography employs causal narrative explanations just as other historical sciences such as evolutionary biology or paleontology do. There is a logic of explanation common to all these sciences that centers on causal explanation of unique and unrepeatable events. The explanandum of historiography can further be understood as mechanism in the sense developed by Stuart Glennan and others in recent years. However, causal explanation is not the only way historiography relates to the past. Arthur Danto has given us the theoretical tools to differentiate between causal narratives and conceptual colligations, with both playing a pivotal role in historiography even though Danto himself has not expressed that thought clearly.

Alison M. Downham Moore

Abstract

This paper reflects on the challenges of writing long conceptual histories of sexual medicine, drawing on the approaches of Michel Foucault and of Reinhart Koselleck. Foucault’s statements about nineteenth-century rupture considered alongside his later-life emphasis on long conceptual continuities implied something similar to Koselleck’s own accommodation of different kinds of historical inheritances expressed as multiple ‘temporal layers.’ The layering model in the history of concepts may be useful for complicating the historical periodizations commonly invoked by historians of sexuality, overcoming historiographic temptations to reduce complex cultural and intellectual phenomena to a unified Zeitgeist. The paper also shows that a haunting reference to ‘concepts’ among scholars of the long history of sexual medicine indicates the emergence of a de facto methodology of conceptual history, albeit one in need of further refinement. It is proposed that reading Koselleck alongside Foucault provides a useful starting-point for precisely this kind of theoretical development.

Alex Long

Hendrik Lorenz and Benjamin Morison

Abstract

Aristotle takes practical wisdom and arts or crafts to be forms of knowledge which, we argue, can usefully be thought of as ‘empiricist’. This empiricism has two key features: knowledge does not rest on grasping unobservable natures or essences; and knowledge does not rest on grasping logical relations that hold among propositions. Instead, knowledge rests on observation, memory, experience and everyday uses of reason. While Aristotle’s conception of theoretical knowledge does require grasping unobservable essences and logical relations that hold among suitable propositions, his conception of practical and productive knowledge avoids such requirements and is consistent with empiricism.

David Bronstein and Whitney Schwab

Abstract

Plato in the Meno is standardly interpreted as committed to condition innatism: human beings are born with latent innate states of knowledge. Against this view, Gail Fine has argued for prenatalism: human souls possess knowledge in a disembodied state but lose it upon being embodied. We argue against both views and in favor of content innatism: human beings are born with innate cognitive contents that can be, but do not exist innately in the soul as, the contents of states of knowledge. Content innatism has strong textual support and constitutes a philosophically interesting theory.

Gunnar Schumann

Abstract

I critically discuss Gerhard Schurz’ improved version of Hempel’s covering law model as the model appropriate for human action explanation in the historical sciences. Schurz takes so-called “normic laws” as the best means to save Hempel’s covering law model from the objection that there are no strict laws in historiography. I criticize Schurz approach in two respects: 1) Schurz falsely takes Dray’s account of historical explanations to be a normic law account. 2) Human action explanation in terms of goals and means-ends-beliefs are not based on normic laws at all, for the explanandum (the action) in an explanation follows from the volitional and doxastic premises (the explanans) alone. To show this, I argue that there is a conceptual connection between volition and action, rooted in our actual usage of volitional concepts. Ultimately, a difference in principle between the methods of explanation in science and historiography has to be acknowledged.

Adam Michael Bricker

Abstract

The problem of historiographical evaluation is simply this: By what evaluative criteria might we say that certain works of historiography are better than others? One recently proposed solution to this problem comes by way of Kuukkanen’s postnarrativist philosophy of historiography.1 Kuukkanen argues that because many historiographically interesting statements lack truth-values, we cannot evaluate historiographical claims on a truth-functional basis. In the place of truth, Kuukkanen suggests that we evaluate historiographical claims in terms of justification. The problem with this proposal, as I will argue here, is that it isn’t at all clear what it means for a neither-true-nor-false claim to be justified. Moreover, this proposal also runs into trouble with the factivity of knowledge. The solution I propose here might be called “two-valued” postnarrativism, which retains Kuukkanen’s framework, except with a stricter ontology devoid of neither-true-nor-false historiographical statements.

In arguing for this approach to historiographical evaluation, this paper will be structured in the following way: First, I’ll describe Kuukkanen’s postnarrativism in more detail, focusing especially on his account of historiographical evaluation (§1). Next, I’ll introduce two problems that accompany this account, one originating from the factivity of knowledge (§2) and the other from trying to divorce justification from the concept of truth (§3). Finally, I argue that not only might these problems be solved by simply committing to all historiographical claims being either true or false, but that Kuukkanen’s account is especially amenable to this (§4).