HISTORICAL NARRATIVE: A DISPUTE BETWEEN CONSTRUCTIONISM AND SCIENTIFIC REALISM
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An intense discussion about the issue of historical narrative arose during the time when the naive realism of classical historiography was being critiqued and led to a dispute, in the last century, between constructionism and critical or scientific realism. We can distinguish between constructionism and noetic constructivism. According to ontological constructionism all facts are human constructions; according to noetic constructivism, our notions and theories are constructs with objective meaning (sense and reference); they refer to objective reality. Scientific realism recognizes the existence of noetic construction but does not regard facts as our constructions, as pure fictions. The point of contention is the question over whether historical narrative is merely a discursive construction or whether it is also a scientific reconstruction of the past. Resolving the dispute over whether historical narrative can be objectively true, or whether it is subject to empirical control or not, is dependent on finding the answer to this question.
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