Historiography

Download e-book for kindle: Objectivity Is Not Neutrality. Explanatory schemes in by Thomas L. Haskell

By Thomas L. Haskell

ISBN-10: 0801856817

ISBN-13: 9780801856815

In Objectivity isn't Neutrality, Thomas L. Haskell argues for a reasonable historicism that recognizes the strength of standpoint and reaffirms the pluralistic practices of a liberal democratic society―even whereas upholding regularly occurring differences among truth and fiction, scholarship and propaganda, correct and can. Haskell addresses questions that might curiosity philosophers and literary theorists a minimum of historians, exploring themes starting from the productiveness of slave hard work to the cultural concomitants of capitalism, from John Stuart Mill's younger "mental challenge" to the cognitive preconditions that set the degree for antislavery and different humanitarian reforms after 1750. He lines the unusually brief heritage of the be aware responsibility, which seems to be no older than the USA. He examines the explanations for the emerging authority specialists in nineteenth-century the USA. And he wonders no matter if the epistemological radicalism of modern years leaves us with any enough foundation for justifying human rights―rights of educational freedom, for instance, or the correct to not be tortured.

Written through a considerate critic of the ancient career, Objectivity isn't Neutrality calls upon historians to imagine deeply in regards to the nature of old clarification and to recognize extra absolutely than ever earlier than the theoretical size in their work.

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Others are spared c r i t i ­ cism o n l y because no one cares enough t o finish t h e m off^. The test o f success i n scholarly i n q u i r y is n o t immurüty t o criticism, n o t p o p u l a r i t y ( o f t e n the product o f political happenstance), n o r even longevity, as such, b u t fruitful- ness i n provoWng critical responses. The process is inescapably ironic. For an explanatory scheme t o succeed is for i t t o provoke t h o u g h t f u l and well-informed criticism that exposes its frail­ ties and limitations.

W h a t does i t mean i n the particular case—a static compari­ son o f n o r t h e r n and southern agricultural p r o d u c t i o n i n the year i 8 6 o - t o w h i c h Fogel and Engerman apply it? The critical difficulty arises fi:om the 6ict that the index, w h i c h is basically a ratio o f o u t p u t to i n p u t , states o u t p u t n o t i n physical units—bushels, bales, or pounds per w o r k e r — b u t i n total market value o f the product. I t is, therefore, as m u c h a measure o f profitability as o f the intrinsic technological efficacy o f the p r o d u c t i o n process.

By that t i m e the field o f economic h i s t o r y h a d become ahnost exclusively the preserve o f economists. Few among the younger generation o f historians k n e w Fogel's name or h a d read his w o r k . " I t is the fate o f aU explanatory schemes t o provoke criticism and die. Some die slowly and fruitfiiUy; others are stUlborn. A few, like M a x Weber's Protes­ tant Ethic and the Spirit ofCapitalism, are resUient enough t o draw fire decade after decade w i t h o u t ever being destroyed, stimulating i n the process the cre­ ation o f shelf u p o n shelf o f first-rate critical literature.

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