The Essential Tension: Historical Knowledge Between Past and Present

In this article, I scrutinize knowledge as it operates in historiography. Historians find themselves in a peculiar position: they need to employ the tools available to them in their present in order to say true things about a past that might have been very different. I argue that our knowledge of the past is best understood through an informational account of knowledge and a coherentist account of justification. In this framework, knowledge claims about the past and anachronisms introduce no special epistemic problems for historiography, and once the logic of historical (re)description and evaluation is understood, historiography stands firm among the historical sciences in terms of the feasibility of its goal of speaking truthfully about the past.