What are the various objections of generalization?

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The various objections of generalisation are:

(i) The first objection is based on the notion that facts are to be differentiated from generalisations and that generalisations should flow out from facts. We have already answered this objection and pointed out that facts are often made facts through generalisations.

(ii) It is said that every event is unique and possesses an individuality of its own. According to this view, society is atomistic and follows no uniformity. But, the fact is that even uniqueness demands comparison. For example, Indian national revolution is unique but its uniqueness can be grasped only by comparing it with other known revolutions.

(iii) Often the critics really target those generalisations which are a priori in character and are superimposed on historical reality. These critics are not wrong. Many put forward a generalisation as an assertion and consider it proved when it has to be proved. Similarly, many generalisations are inadequately tested. Many are based on oversimplification of data and relationships and causation.

In fact, the real problem is different and may be delineated as follows:

(a) Generalisations should be made explicit so they can be openly debated.

(b) The main problem is the level of a generalisation and of kind it is.

(c) The degree of validity or tentativeness or 'truth' of a generalisation and what kind of proof is used to validate.

(d) One should study how to make generalisations and learn how to improve one's capacity to make interconnections which are better or more authentic and useful ones (i.e. with greater validity and coverage). In other words, when we say that a particular historian is a good historian; one means that he makes better connection and generalisations apart from having technical skill and integrity as a historian.


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