One critique historians often receive is that they unfairly judge historical figures by present day standards instead of the standards of the time in which they lived. I unpacked this criticism in a Mailbag for Contingent. Here’s a preview:
When pushed, people who talk about “the standards of the time” will often say it’s about how people in the past were just “a product of their time” and “didn’t know any different.” Those don’t mean the same thing, though, and their conflation (intentionally) hides the rot at the core of this cliché.
Read more here.