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Virtues of Historiography

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image of Journal of the Philosophy of History

Abstract In this paper, I take up Herman Paul’s suggestion to analyze the process of writing history in terms of virtues. In contrast to Paul, however, I argue that the concept of virtue used here should not be based on virtue epistemology, but rather on virtue ethics. The reason is that virtue epistemology is discriminative towards non-cognitive virtues and incompatible with the Ankersmitian/Whitean view of historiography as a multivocal path from historical reality to historical representation. Virtue ethics on the other hand, more specifically those forms of virtue ethics which emphasize the uncodifiability thesis, is very capable of providing such an account. In order to make this somewhat more concrete, I distinguish four important traits of virtue ethics, and I try to make clear how these can be interpreted with respect to the writing of history.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Critical Philosophy, Ghent University Belgium


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