Friday, 6 May 2016

Historical Research: Is it Scientific?

An issue which has been raised respectively -though perhaps not always profitability concerns the scientific status of historical research. The issue centres round the definition of terms and the criteria used. The status of historical research as a scientific endeavour can hardly be questioned, if the criteria are defined in terms of its reliance on critical methods of discovery and of scholarship. If, on the other hand, we insist that science be oriented toward the discover of laws capable of conclusive verification, historical research probably does not qualify as science.
These are three tasks in historical research:
          1.      The Collection of Data:
Historical facts are not ‘knowable’ in the same as the facts of the physical sciences; they have to be inferred and accepted on the basis of plausibility. Historical research is generally based on unique events which occurred but once and which cannot occur again or repeated.
            2.       The Treatment and Interpretation of the Data:
      Historical problems, on the other hand, since they deal with unique events, are verifiable only      on the basis of logical deduction. It is very difficult for the historian to make an adequate analysis of diaries, letters, etc. often he must deal with a profusion and complexity of data produced under varying conditions of insight and incentive.
          3.      Products of Historical Research:

Historical research can also be criticised from the standpoint of the products it seeks to provide on the concept of causation, which is especially confusing in the case of historical research. In summary, historical research can be considered lacking a number of the characteristics of the scientific method, interpreted in its narrow sense.

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