Objectivity and Relativism

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    Can historians be truly objective? Is a relativist standpoint a threat to history as an academic discipline? These fundamental questions will be addressed from the point of view of Friedrich Meinecke (1862–1954), Charles A. Beard (1874–1948), Jörn Rüsen, and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900–2002) and their views on historical understanding and the role of values in this. The consequences of in particular ethical relativism – the crisis of the justification of (absolute) moral beliefs – is considered by most historians as a threat to the academic status of the discipline of history, and moreover, it renders a moral orientation in the present almost impossible. Meinecke and Beard suggested metaphysical answers to this problem. Rüsen proposed an encapsulation of subjectivity into objectivity. Gadamer suggested mediation between objectivity and subjectivity. All of them have their merits and demerits. Key to this chapter is whether or not the real challenge to the discipline of history lies in attaining objectivity or in coping with the consequences of ethical relativism.
    Originele taal-2English
    TitelThe Routledge Companion to Historical Theory
    RedacteurenChiel van den Akker
    UitgeverijRoutledge, Taylor and Francis group
    Hoofdstuk15
    Aantal pagina's21
    ISBN van elektronische versie9780367821814
    ISBN van geprinte versie9780367421083
    StatusPublished - 16-nov-2021

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