Difference between revisions of "Historical science"

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'''Historical science''' aims to describe phenomena of the past and reconstruct their [[Cause and effect|causes]].<ref>{{Cite book
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'''Historical science''' aims to describe phenomena of the unobservable past and reconstruct their [[Cause and effect|causes]].<ref>{{Cite book
 
| author=Laudan, R. | chapter=What's so Special about the Past? | page=58
 
| author=Laudan, R. | chapter=What's so Special about the Past? | page=58
 
| title=History and Evolution | editor=Nitecki, M.H., and Nitecki, D.V. | year=1992
 
| title=History and Evolution | editor=Nitecki, M.H., and Nitecki, D.V. | year=1992

Revision as of 13:53, 22 December 2012

Historical science aims to describe phenomena of the unobservable past and reconstruct their causes.[1]

When trying to explain past phenomena, historical scientists try to construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and then look for a so called "smoking gun", a piece of evidence which indicates that one of the hypotheses might be a better explanation than the others.[2][3] Historical scientists commonly use:

  • (i) the type of reasoning named abduction[3],
  • (ii) inference to the best explanation and
  • (iii) argument from analogy.[4]

References

  1. Laudan, R. (1992). "What's so Special about the Past?", in Nitecki, M.H., and Nitecki, D.V.: History and Evolution. SUNY Press. ISBN 0791412113. Retrieved on 7 February 2010. 
  2. Cleland, C.E. (September 2002). "Methodological and Epistemic Differences between Historical Science and Experimental Science" (PDF). Philosophy of Science 69: 474–496. http://spot.colorado.edu/~cleland/articles/Cleland.PS.Pdf. Retrieved 25.1.2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Meyer, Stephen C. (2008). Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperOne, 150-153. ISBN 978-0-06-147279-2. “Gould ... emphasized that historical scientist tested their theories by evaluating their explanatory power.” 
  4. John C. Lennox (2009). God's undertaker. Has science buried God?. Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 204. ISBN 978-0-7459-5371-7. 

See also