The Philosophical Structure of Historical Explanation

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Paul A. Roth, The Philosophical Structure of Historical Explanation, Northwestern University Press, 2020, 188pp., $34.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780810140875.

Reviewed by John H. Zammito, Rice University


“The bulk of Paul Roth’s book, as its title would indicate, has to do with placing historical explanations under philosophical inspection, i.e., evaluating “the putative ‘goodness’ of [such] explanations.” (6) The study offers a lot that is illuminating about the distinctive nature of historical explanation, pivoting on its ineluctably narrative structure, and yet we should hearken to Roth’s acknowledgment in the end that he provided a philosophical gloss on what historical practice has all along credited. What philosophy appraises is whether this habit of using narratives to explain is to be tolerated or condemned.”

Read the review.

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