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Epistemology and what we “know” about past practices in legal department management

The epistemology of the 19th century assumed that “facts” about the past were “out there” and that historians’ primary task was to collect and state them. Assiduous fact-gathering, they asserted, would bring us to know the truth about the past “as it really was.” In the 20th century this notion crumbled; postmodern thinking, as it is generally known, disagreed with “objective facts” from history. A similar split in beliefs, however, may still happen today when people write or speak about what law department managers purportedly did, and why

Postmodernists hold that no truth exists outside of what ideology creates. What people believe strongly shapes what they perceive to be facts. Truth is socially invented and consensually agreed to, not discovered. Postmodern thinkers deny there is a reality in the past beyond what is described by language, and the barrier of language, its inability to be clear, prevents historians from telling any “real” truth about the past. They also reject narratives of progress much as they scorn the absolutist world of 19th-century positivism. Postmodernism abandons the Platonic view of essences in favor or a socially constructed reality, as described in Vlatko Vedral, Decoding Reality: the universe as quantum information (Oxford 2010).

All this calls into question the quality, authenticity, and factuality of explanations regarding how and why things happened in law departments.

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