Epistemic Values in the Humanities

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Some scholars have defended the academic legitimacy of the humanities by drawing attention to their distinct goals or methods. In this essay, I argue for their legitimacy by doing the opposite: I defend the view that they pursue the same epistemic values as the sciences. I distinguish three different kinds of epistemic values: first, properties of theories, ideas, hypotheses; second, properties—more specifically intellectual character traits—of individual scholars and research groups; and, third, relations between individual scholars or groups of scholars and reality, such as knowledge and understanding. I use a variety of historical examples to argue that the humanities aim at the same epistemic values as the sciences, even though some epistemic values have more weight in the humanities while others have more weight in the sciences. Moreover, in opposition to the sciences, the humanities actually study these epistemic values themselves. When we compare the humanities with the sciences when it comes to epistemic values, then, the humanities do at least as good or even better than the sciences. I conclude by sketching the ramifications of this on three important topics: the marginalization of the humanities that many universities face nowadays; the doctrine of scientism, that is, the idea that only the natural sciences provide reliable knowledge; and the alleged cultural gap between the sciences and the humanities.
LanguageEnglish
Pages89-111
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of Humanities
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

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Epistemic Values
Legitimacy
Scientism
Character Traits
Research Groups
Marginalization
Doctrine
Natural Science

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Peels, Rik. / Epistemic Values in the Humanities. In: History of Humanities. 2018 ; Vol. 3, No. 1. pp. 89-111
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Epistemic Values in the Humanities. / Peels, Rik.

In: History of Humanities, Vol. 3, No. 1, 04.2018, p. 89-111.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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