On the Future of History: The Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath

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The principal problem is one well known to social scientists: the existence of such close relationships between a set of variables that it becomes impossible to identify cause and effect… Second, the presence of a plurality of actors makes it more difficult to attribute success or failure to one particular strategy Diani Thirdly, the difficulties created by a plurality of actors are added to by the difficulty of reconstructing the causal dynamics underlying particular public decisions… Particularly where comparison is being made between different movements or countries, the problems outlined above hinder an evaluation of the relative effectiveness of particular movement strategies.

I am convinced that causal complexity is an important part of the answer cf. Earl ; Giugni In the context of social movement outcomes, causal complexity refers to the fact that not only social movements but also interest groups, public opinion, mass media, political parties and many other factors are likely to exert causal influence on the process of social and political change. In order to sort out the various influences, we first need clear theories of the causal processes by which social movements produce their effects Tilly, It is a key premise of this book that such causal theories are still underdeveloped in the social movement literature - despite the existence of much empirical work on the outcomes of social movements.

Postmodern Education: History

This might lead us to conclude that the ecology movement was instrumental in bringing about changes in environmental policy, at least as far as spending is concerned; yet, the reverse causal path is just as likely. Changes in environmental spending might have provoked a decline of the mobilization. Furthermore, both developments over time largely reflect shifts in the presidency. Protest went up when a Republican president was in power and down with a Democrat in the White House.

Similarly, spending increased under Democratic presidencies and diminished under Republican ones. Hawkins and R.

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In one set of judgments, similar to the standard Fischhoff paradigm, the experimenter provided the subjects with descriptions of possible outcomes defined by settlement terms and duration of the strike and elicited probability estimates both during the strike foresight and at two points in time after it was over hindsight. These estimates revealed the typical hindsight pattern of greater probabilities associated with the actual outcome in hindsight as compared with foresight.

In Experiment 2 all participants received at the end individual feedback about their recall performance and were then subjected to the same experimental procedure again, twice in succession. The amount of hindsight bias, however, remained unaffected by either of these two manipulations.

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Studies and analyses of relevance to this conclusion are summarized at various points throughout the book. A system is simply a set of interacting components that form a larger whole. Nonlinear means that due to feedback or multiplicative effects between the components, the whole becomes something greater than the mere sum of its individual parts.

Lastly, dynamical means the system changes over time based on its current state. Nearly every nontrivial real-world system is a nonlinear dynamical system. Chaotic systems are a type of nonlinear dynamical system that may contain very few interacting parts and may follow simple rules, but all have a very sensitive dependence on their initial conditions. Note, however, that some elements are more predictable than others. McCloskey acknowledged as well that it is impossible to know whether many systems are linear or not.

But though it seems likely that the exact course of some of the events of the U. Civil War may have been sensitive to initial conditions, McCloskey did not prove that somethings similar would not have been brought about by different initial conditions and certainly neither McCloskey nor Reisch introduced the kind of mathematical modeling that scientists associate with chaos. Historians also face the question of how to reconcile long-term origins, which tend to be structural in nature, with short-term origins, which emphasize the contingent nature of specific events and decisions by individuals.

Peter R. Today, the classic interpretation has been undermined, there is ambivalence about the Enlightenment, and no new paradigm for explaining revolutionary change has emerged. Several of our essayists appear to be every bit as skeptical of a totalizing explanatory notion of political discourse as they once were of class conflict. Clearly, allies matter. They found only two of their twelve indicators of political opportunities to be significantly correlated with the outcomes of the civil rights movement. Was the development of nuclear weapons a blessing or a curse for humankind?

What about affirmative action, free trade, or the growing economic and political integration of Europe? Serious and thoughtful scholars can be found on all sides of these controversies.

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Their arguments share one thing in common: the use of counterfactual benchmarks—most often, implicitly—to assess the merits of real-world policies, outcomes, or trends. Robert Cowley ed. What If? Ferguson's questions are good ones; his answers are not.

He appears to be following the A. Taylor approach to the writing of history: make outrageous arguments that stand history on its head, infuriate the critics, gain publicity, and with any luck, sell a lot of books.

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iczicadgobel.gq: On the Future of History: The Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath (): Ernst Breisach: Books. Editorial Reviews. Review. "On the Future of History is an intelligent and extremely interesting On the Future of History: The Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath - Kindle edition by Ernst Breisach. Download it once and read it on your.

The most interesting studies demonstrate where, when and how history was necessary or contingent. Other studies are no better or worse than conventional historiography, while still others are irrelevant for the kind of problems in which historians and philosophers of history are interested. Clarity … 2. Legal consistency or cotenability … 3. Enabling counterfactuals should not undercut the antecedent… 4. Historical consistency… 5. Theoretical consistency… 6. Avoid the conjunction fallacy… 7. Recognize the interconnectedness of causes and outcomes… 8.

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Postmodernists see both historical evidence and the language of historical writing as subjective and full of assumptions. Create Alert. They differed from each other by their reactions to the threat of death. That made the realm of language to a high degree autonomous. Of course, different historical topics have different amounts of disagreement or consensus on different issues, but the debate around the causes of World War I may be quite representative of the difficulties of considering causation in any complex, multicausal situation. Admirably, there is absolutely no sound of grinding axes nor of the ill-informed pontificating adopted by other historians who have attempted to defend history from its apparent foes. Scholars engaged in the endeavor were confident that they had found the answers to the dilemmas of modern thought and, therefore, could lift the burden of progress off the shoulders of history.

Consider second-order counterfactuals. Tetlock and Aaron Belkin, eds. Logistical consistency or cotenability… 3. Historical consistency minimal-rewrite rule Theoretical consistency… 5. Statistical consistency… 6. Documents are rarely smoking guns that allow researchers to establish motives or causes beyond a reasonable doubt. During critical junctures change is substantially less constrained than it is during the phases of path dependence that precede and follow them. In critical junctures contingency is enhanced, as the structural constraints imposed on actors during the path-dependent phase are substantially relaxed.

Only by taking counterfactual analysis seriously can contingency be studied. To sustain causal inference it is generally necessary to engage in comparative analysis. Within the single-case format comparative analysis can take two forms: intracase comparison and counterfactual analysis. See also Philip E. People need knowledge of the past, and everybody uses this cognition in his or her own way. It would ill serve any prince to be told that the past offers simple lessons… Studying the past is no sure guide to predicting the future.

On the Future of History the Postmodernist Challenge and its Aftermath

What it does do, though, is to prepare you for the future by expanding experience, so that you can increase your skills, your stamina - and, if all goes well, your wisdom. There are no clear blueprints to be discovered in history that can help us shape the future as we wish.

Each historical event is a unique congeries of factors, people or chronology. Evans claims that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain became "obsessed with the desire to avoid the 'appeasement' of dictators which he had himself criticized in the later s, launched an ill-advised and unsuccessful military strike against the Egyptian government under Colonel Nasser when it nationalized the Anglo-French-owned Suez Canal. Postmodernists see both historical evidence and the language of historical writing as subjective and full of assumptions.

In other words, the historical consciousness is as much tropical or narrative-linguistic as it is a synthetic empirical-analytical undertaking. This is the perspective, founded on the work of key philosophical, literary and historical thinkers like Stephen C. Neither language nor experience could be considered reality in isolation from each other. This recognition has been the most important contribution of narrativism to historical inquiry.

For some time to come, narrative and language will not be regarded as silent and passive partners in the creation of historical works. They agreed on the destructive effect of the denial of a possible, referential, authoritative truth and of the theoretical tenets derived from it. Good historians always have been aware of the fallibility of their findings - due to error, insufficient data, risks taken in interpretation, and the experiential background of the historians. They have affirmed, however, that the cumulative results of proper perception, cognition, and imagination, expressed in the symbolic forms of language, could lead to a sufficiently proximate knowledge of the past as it had once been lived.

Richard J. Evans, In Defence of History London: Granta, ; first published is one example of many books which I find, convincingly refutes the more radical proposals of postmodernism. But… for my own part, I remain optimistic that objective historical knowledge is both desirable and attainable… I will look humbly at the past and say despite them all: it really happened, and we really can, if we are very scrupulous and careful and self-critical, find out how it happened and reach some tenable though always less than final conclusions about what it all meant.

Such a target is the object of actual or planned influence attempts by the group… In the case of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, for example, the various steel companies were the antagonist. In the case of the Social Revolutionary Clubs Anarcho-Communists , the national regime was the antagonist. All the categorizations are subjective. Larger groups are not much more likely to achieve the changes they desire than smaller ones.