Skepticism About Historical Knowledge and Moral Responsibility

I’ve encountered people online and in books who claim to be skeptics about historical knowledge.  I can’t adopt this position because I know I’ve done bad things.  For example I know I ate an ice-cream sandwich last night even though I had promised myself I wouldn’t.  If I were a skeptic about history I would not know that I ate the sandwich, and in a sense, I’d prefer not to know it, because it is embarrassing.  I also know that people in my family have done bad things — I had a grandfather who was a lawyer for a corrupt union for example.  I also know people in my country have done bad things — my nation,the United States, used to be a legally white supremacist state.

So for me the following argument is valid

1)If knowledge of the past were impossible I would not know that I had ever done anything wrong.  My conscience would be entirely blemish free.

2)But my conscience is not entirely blemish free — I do know that I have done things wrong (and so have my family and my nation)

3)Therefore knowledge of the past is possible.



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