"The monograph has been unsatisfactory, most commonly as literature but often even in the very analytical functions it was designed to perform." -- Richard Hofstadter, "History and the social sciences" (1956), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 218
"The more the historian learns from the social sciences, the more variables he is likely to take account of, the more complex his task becomes. The result may be that his conclusions become more tenuous and tentative, but this is a result to be welcomed. The closer the historian comes, with whatever aids, to the full texture of historical reality, the more deeply is he engulfed in a complex web of relationships which he can hope to understand only in a limited and partial way. While he may acquire some usable methods from the social sciences, I doubt that the new techniques that he may acquire will outweigh the new problems that he will take on. His task has not been simplified; it has been enlarged. His work has not greater certainty, but greater range and depth." -- Richard Hofstadter, "History and the social sciences" (1956), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 220
"Formidable criticisms have been written of the familiar distinction between the nomothetic sciences (which can make general laws about repeatable events) and the ideographic (which seek to understand unique and non-recurrent events)." -- Richard Hofstadter, "History and the social sciences" (1956), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 222-3.
"Unlike the philosopher of history or the philosopher of science; the working historian is not nearly so much interested in whether history can, after all, be logically classed with the natural sciences as he is in how far his mode of procedure is in fact a scientific one or could be changed to resemble it. Certainly, in the broad sense that he operates from a basis in fact, aspires to make warrantable assertions, and works in a self-critical discipline, the historian can see that he has something in common with science. But if the term science has any special meaning, he sees equally important differences. Since in his work quantification plays so limited a role, and since he cannot conduct experiments, or, strictly speaking, make predictions, he naturally feels that the difference between his methods and results and those prevailing in most branches of the natural sciences are of central importance." -- Richard Hofstadter, "History and the social sciences" (1956), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 223.
"Much of the claimed difference between the disciplines is hardly more than a series of attempts by the authors concerned to appropriate the work they happen to do for the discipline they happen to profess." -- Philip Abrams, Historical Sociology (1982), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 226.
"The problem of agency is the problem finding a way of accounting for human experience which recognises simultaneously and in equal measure that history and society are made by constant and more or less purposeful individual action and that individual action, however purposeful, is made by history and society. How do we as active subjects make a world of objects which then, as it were, become subjects making us their objects?" -- Philip Abrams, Historical Sociology (1982), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 227.
"But in the long run, even in the more esoteric branches of history, it must surely be the case that there will always come a moment when the historian, having worked out a solid conceptual basis, will need to start counting: to record frequencies, significant repetitions, or percentages." -- Emmanuele Le Roy Ladurie, The Territory of the Historian (1979), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 238.
"Economic and demographic determinsm has not only been undermined by a recognition of ideas, culture and even individual will as independent variables. It has also been sapped by a revived recognition that political and military power, the use of brute force, has very frequently dictated the structure of society, the distribution of wealth, the agrarian system, and even the culture of the élite." -- Lawrence Stone "The Revival of Narrative: Reflections on a New Old History" (1979), cited in Tosh, ed. Historians on History, p. 257.