Descriptive accuracy in history: the case of narrative explanations

Leonidas Tsilipakos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
158 Downloads (Pure)


This article discusses the issue of the conceptual accuracy of descriptions of social life, which, although fundamental for the social sciences, has in fact been neglected. I approach this task via an examination of Paul Roth’s recent work, which recapitulates reflection in analytic philosophy of history and sets out a view of the past as indeterminate until retrospectively constructed in historical narratives. I argue that Roth’s position embraces an overly restricted notion of historical significance and underestimates how anachronistic descriptions vitiate central historiographical tasks. I contend that the importance of conceptually accurate descriptions for history and the social sciences cannot be overstated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-312
Number of pages30
JournalPhilosophy of the Social Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date11 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Description
  • Accuracy
  • Concepts
  • Narrative sentences
  • Narrative explanation
  • Narrative


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