oa South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences - The whig interpretation of history

Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1015-8812
  • E-ISSN: 2222-3436



In economics, as in other disciplines, one often comes across the term ""whig"" or its derivatives. One will find, for example, a particular account being branded as whiggish. Butterfield, who was a historian, introduced the idea of a whig interpretation of history in 1931. Since then the term has usually been used to classify an approach which views the present as the culmination of a march of progress. This paper provides a brief background to the origin of the term and why Butterfield criticised what he called the whig interpretation of history.

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