Values, Objectivity, and Explanation in Historiography brings up to date and renews the debate on two major themes in the philosophy of history which in the last decades have been overshadowed by the linguistic turn and the interest in narrativity.
Part I of this book is concerned with the tension between values and objectivity. Following a critical discussion of the postmodern notion of situated truths, the point of departure for the next chapters is a heated Danish debate on cold war historiography, which has involved the political parties, the national newspapers, and the courts. The analysis concludes that historians, even in postfoundational times, have considerable room for presenting findings that for all practical reasons are accepted as objectively true, although the descriptions are hedged by ineluctable epistemic instability. Part II revolves around explanation, which is understood as providing information that reduces readers' insecurity as to what the explanandum is due to. The ideal explanatory text - a key concept in the account - allows for not only causal (including intentional) explanations, but also nomological, structural, and functional explanations. It is ecumenical but not all-encompassing (or without epistemic challenges). Emergent social properties and supernatural entities are excluded, making academic historiography methodologically individualistic and atheist. The analysis of explanation is rounded off by a juxtaposition with what increasingly has come to be seen as a major function of historiography, namely to infuse the past with meaning.