Historical Social Research

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Manfred Thaller: Ungefähre Exaktheit. Theoretische Grundlagen und praktische Möglichkeiten einer Formulierung historischer Quellen als Produkte ,unscharfer’ Systeme [1984] [Abstract]

The distrust many historians show when confronted with the results of quantitative studies is partially related to the experience, that many decisions which go into the preparation of historical sources for quantitative analysis are much more definite and final than the many uncertainties surrounding the meaning of terminology and statements in such sources actually justify. This is correct, but it is directed at the current stage of statistical studies, not at the nature of quantitative or formal reasoning as such. Fuzzy logic and fuzzy systems provide approaches, which could be harnessed to adapt statistical reasoning to the inherent uncertainties of historical data. The paper outlines the way in which this could be implemented with the help of examples drawn from the applications of statistics to social history.


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