Re-enactment and Laws

Dray William H.

in History as Re-Enactment

Published in print March 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238812
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679780 | DOI:
Re-enactment and Laws

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This chapter examines the kind of understanding which R. G. Collingwood himself more often contrasted with the re-enactive sort: understanding achieved through scientific explanation, or explanation in terms of laws. Two views of re-enactive explanation itself are considered, along with some implications of Collingwood's theory for some related questions concerning re-enactment, such as the viability of assuming determinism in history and the extent to which historians properly use generalisations. Collingwood's ‘scientific’ theory of explanation is also sometimes known as the ‘nomological’ or ‘law-subsumption’ theory. The fact that Collingwood at least sometimes represents re-enactive explanation as logically excluding nomological explanation of the same thing raises the general question of where he stands on the issue of historical determinism.

Keywords: history; R. G. Collingwood; re-enactment; historical understanding; laws; determinism; generalisations; law-subsumption theory; scientific explanation

Chapter.  16372 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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