Volume 1, Issue 1, 2010
Catherine Z. Elgin
Touchstones of History: Anscombe, Hume, and Julius Caesar
In “Hume and Julius Caesar,” G.E.M. Anscombe argues that some historical claims, such as “Julius Caesar was assassinated,” serve as touchstones for historical knowledge. Only Cartesian doubt can call them into question. I examine her reasons for thinking that the discipline of history must be grounded in claims that it is powerless to discredit. I argue that she is right to recognize that some historical claims are harder to dislodge than others, but wrong to contend that any are invulnerable to non-Cartesian doubt.