The ambition of scholarship in the humanities is to systematically understand the human condition in all its aspects and times. To this end, humanists are more apt to interpret specific phenomena than generalize to previously unseen observations. When we consider scholarship as a collective effort, this has consequences. I argue that most of the humanities rely on a distinct social contract. This contract states that interpretive arguments are expected to be plausible and the grounds on which they are made, verifiable. This is the scholarly purpose (albeit not the rhetorical one) of most of what goes in our footnotes, especially references. Reference verification is mostly a virtual act, i.e., it all too rarely happens in practice, yet it is in principle always possible. Any individual scholar in any domain in the humanities can, by virtue of this contract, verify the evidence supporting any argument in a non-mediated way. This is essential to, at the very least, distinguish between solid and haphazard arguments.

Colavizza Giovanni (2020). Are we breaking the social contract?. JOURNAL OF CULTURAL ANALYTICS, 5(1), 1-10 [10.22148/001c.11828].

Are we breaking the social contract?

Colavizza Giovanni
2020

Abstract

The ambition of scholarship in the humanities is to systematically understand the human condition in all its aspects and times. To this end, humanists are more apt to interpret specific phenomena than generalize to previously unseen observations. When we consider scholarship as a collective effort, this has consequences. I argue that most of the humanities rely on a distinct social contract. This contract states that interpretive arguments are expected to be plausible and the grounds on which they are made, verifiable. This is the scholarly purpose (albeit not the rhetorical one) of most of what goes in our footnotes, especially references. Reference verification is mostly a virtual act, i.e., it all too rarely happens in practice, yet it is in principle always possible. Any individual scholar in any domain in the humanities can, by virtue of this contract, verify the evidence supporting any argument in a non-mediated way. This is essential to, at the very least, distinguish between solid and haphazard arguments.
2020
Colavizza Giovanni (2020). Are we breaking the social contract?. JOURNAL OF CULTURAL ANALYTICS, 5(1), 1-10 [10.22148/001c.11828].
Colavizza Giovanni
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/948707
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