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Historical Antirealism and the Past as a Fictional Model

In: Organon F, vol. 26, no. 4
David Černín Číslo ORCID


Year, pages: 2019, 635 - 659
Language: eng
Analytic philosophy of history; antirealism; evidence; ex- planation; Goldstein; history; model.
Article type: Research Article
About article:
This paper focuses on the discipline of history, its methods, subject, and output. A brief overview of contemporary analytic philosophy of history is provided, followed by critical discussion of historical realism. It is argued that the insistence on the idea that historians inquire into the real past and that they refer to the actual past entities, events, or agents is widely open to sceptical objections. The concept of an abstract historical chronicle of past events which are explained or retold by historians is identified as misleading. The idea of historical antirealism is then introduced. It is argued that in the centre of historian’s attention are present phenomena that are identified as historical evidence and require historical explanation. Historical explanation consists of constituting an historical past— a fictional model that accounts for present data. The identification process of historical evidence and the discursive nature of historical enterprise are analysed and accompanied by several concrete examples. According to historical antirealism, historians are not interested in the real past, but in the present empirical data. In their pursuit of historical knowledge, they produce fictional models—an historical past. Lastly, several common caveats against historical antirealism are addressed. The historical antirealism is presented as a viable fictionalist account of the historical inquiry that is capable of avoiding sceptical attacks on historical method and it is argued that antirealism allows history to retain its worth as a distinctive kind of scientific discipline.
How to cite:
ISO 690:
Černín, D. 2019. Historical Antirealism and the Past as a Fictional Model. In Organon F, vol. 26, no.4, pp. 635-659. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2019.26405

Černín, D. (2019). Historical Antirealism and the Past as a Fictional Model. Organon F, 26(4), 635-659. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2019.26405
About edition:
Publisher: Filozofický ústav SAV, Filosofický ústav AVČR
Published: 1. 12. 2019
David Černín