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.
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