Historical fallacy

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The historical fallacy is a logical fallacy originally described by philosopher John Dewey in The Psychological Review in 1896. Most simply put, the fallacy occurs when a person reads into a process the results that occur only because of that process. Dewey writes:

"A set of considerations which hold good only because of a completed process, is read into the content of the process which conditions this completed result. A state of things characterizing an outcome is regarded as a true description of the events which led up to this outcome; when, as a matter of fact, if this outcome had already been in existence, there would have been no necessity for the process."[1]


  1. ^ The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology, John Dewey, The Psychological Review, VOL. III. No. 4. July 1896. p. 367

Further reading[edit]

  • Good, J.A. (2005). A Search for Unity in Diversity: The 'Permanent Hegelian Deposit' in the Philosophy of John Dewey. Lexington Books. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-7391-6066-4. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  • The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology (1896)