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

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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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