The historian’s fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when one assumes that decision Fischer did not suggest that historians should refrain from retrospective analysis in their work, but he reminded historians that their subjects were not. Full text of “Historians Fallacies Toward A Logic Of Historical Thought” ; quoted in Roger A. Fischer, “Racial Segregation in Ante Bellum New Orleans,”. HISTORIANS’. FALLACIES. Toward a Logic of Historical Thought by David Hackett Fischer. HARPER & ROW, PUBLISHERS. NEW YORK, EVANSTON, AND.

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That judgment is safe, and maybe sound I believe otherwise. In historical writing, declarative questions tend also to be mimetic questions, with a frequency which calls to mind an epigram variously attributed to Max Beerbohm and Herbert Asquiththat whether or not history repeats itself, historians repeat each other. A prime example is the problem which is eternally popular among Civil War historians: And he concludes that railroads were in fact “dispensable” to economic development in nineteenth-century Amer- ica.

Stanley Baldwin boasted in the yearthat “one of the reasons why our 2. This may serve as a specimen of one sort of pseudo fact, in which a relative quantity is stated in absolute terms, without a clarifi- cation of its reference. But be that as it may, his attempt at compromise will not work for other reasons.

Moore’s argument thus becomes an hypothesis that “all violent radical revolutionary change is violent. It is verifiably the case that many common historical narratives are fraught with hidden side-stories and questionable intentions.

Full text of “Historians Fallacies Toward A Logic Of Historical Thought”

But if there are some ways in which a study of error can help his- torical scholarship, there are others in which it can hurt. Its assumptions and implications must be spelled out in full detail, not merely for the sake of the reader, but for histoians sake of the researcher himself. Gold- man’s profundity consists in a hypothetical proposition that “all-out agitators, to be successful, must be successful.


Without questions — Ernst Cassirer — R. The Ficsher Customs Service in Colonial America, 1 Cambridge,a fine book which orthodox academic reviewers have utterly failed to understand. The most influential text is R. From inside the book.

As you can imagine the work caused a huge wave of indignation in the historical Guild. They are customarily committed to a search for the logic of thought about everything in general, and nothing in particular.

They were researched with care. This definition of fallacy conforms to the third meaning of the term in Alfred Sidgwick, Fallacies London, In these researches which require so much patience and so much effort, so much prudence and so much boldness, the opportunities for error are innumerable, and none can hope to escape it. A counterquestion tends to operate, in this respect, as a declarative question.

There is much to be salvaged from the wreckage — a zeal for fische of historical problems, a determination to make questions and assumptions explicit, and an impressive conceptual sophistication. Scarcly a major historian escapes unscathed.

Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. A fight between wild-eyed exponents of X and Y will help not at all if Z was in fact the case, as it usually is. Among my colleagues, it is common to believe that any procedure is permissible, as long as its practitioner publishes an essay from time to time, and is not convicted of a felony.

Of course, in itself his deed has something quite arrogant and pedantic.

Historian’s fallacy – Wikipedia

But like Beard, McDonald tended to forget that men have minds and hearts, and feet to stand on and spines to stand straight. He can violate this rule with impunity, if he is very lucky, or very good.


It can make writing more intimidating, though, because I think it’s impossible to read this book without worrying about how many of these issues might be infesting one’s own work.

Whether the purpose at hand is to design a proper question, or to select a responsive set of factual answers, or to verify their factuality, or to form them into a statistical generalization which itself becomes a fact, or whatever — it always involves the making of purposive and procedural assumptions that entail certain logical consequences.

If a historian can’t prove A to be true, nor disprove B to be false, then the historian sets about proving A is more “probable” than B Judith, my wife, made the pro- ject possible in every other way.

It may have been so, but his supporting evidence for Manhattan consists of three reversible references — that a law was passed against littering in New Amsterdam inthat the law was enforced upon an early American litterbug named John Sharp inand that provision was made in for weekly trash removal by the car men of the city. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. According to Fischer, this technique was pioneered by the American historian Douglas Southall Freeman in his influential biographies of Robert E.

Using major historical works pre, Fischer points out fallacies in research, interpretation, and presentation. But often and increasingly today a different kind of explana- tion-strategy is adopted.