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ADRIAN BLAU - UNCERTAINTY AND THE HISTORY OF IDEAS | JSTOR - History and Theory (Oct 2011)
History and Theory, Vol. 50, No. 3 (October 2011), pp. 358-372 -- Intellectual historians often make empirical claims, but can never know for certain if these claims are right. Uncertainty is thus inevitable for intellectual historians. But accepting uncertainty is not enough: we should also act on it, by trying to reduce and report it. We can reduce uncertainty by amassing valid data from different sources to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of competing explanations, rather than trying to "prove" an empirical claim by looking for evidence that fits it. Then we should report our degree of certainty in our claims. When we answer empirical questions in intellectual history, we are not telling our readers what happened: we are telling them how strong we think our evidence is—a crucial shift of emphasis. For intellectual historians, then, uncertainty is subjective, as discussed by Keynes and Collingwood; the paper thus explores three differences between subjective and objective uncertainty. Having outlined the theoretical basis of uncertainty, the paper then offers examples from actual research: Noel Malcolm's work shows how to reduce and report uncertainty about composition, and David Wootton's work shows how to reduce and report uncertainty about beliefs. -- VERY Anti Straussian based on extensive bibliography -- downloaded pdf to Note
article  jstor  intellectual_history  historiography  intellectual_history-distorted  philosophy_of_history  hermeneutics  hermeneutics_of_suspicion  Strauss  Straussians  epistemology-history  evidence  coherence  uncertainty  Keynes  Keynes-uncertainty  Collingwood  objectivity  positivism  post-foundational  Cambridge_School  author_intention  reception  audience  bibliography  downloaded 
january 2016 by dunnettreader

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