OBJECTIVITY IN HISTORY
By MARK BEVIR
Department of Politics. Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU . U.K.
Many philosophers have rejected the possibility of objective historical
knowledge on the grounds that there is no given past against which to judge rival
interpretations. There reasons for doing so are valid. But this does not demonstrate
that we rnust give up the concept of historical objectivity as such. The purpose of this
paper is to de6ne a concept of objectivity based on criteria of comparison, not on a
given past. Objective interpretations are those which best mee! rational criteria of
accuracy, cornprehensiveness, consistency, progressiveness, fruitfulness, and openness.
Finally, the nature of our being in the world is shown to give us a good reason to
regard such objective interpretations as moving towards a regulative ideal of truth.