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  The belief that geography and history are methodologically distinct from other fields of inquiry because they are peculiarly concerned with the study of the unique and the particular. The idea is closely associated with Kantianism, but in geography the term is usually identified with Schaefer\'s (1953) posthumous challenge to what he regarded as the idiographic orthodoxy enshrined in Hartshorne\'s The nature of geography (1939). Schaefer rejected exceptionalism to argue for a nomothetic geography which would furnish \'morphological laws\' about spatial patterns. Hartshorne\'s views were in fact more nuanced than Schaefer maintained, and he never accepted any clear division between the idiographic and the nomothetic because they were both \'present in all branches of science\'. But he did insist that any general concepts used in geography should be directed towards the analysis of specific regions, and that its essential task was the study of areal differentiation rather than (as Schaefer preferred) the elucidation of the laws of location that were supposed to underpin these regional configurations. (DG)

References Hartshorne, R. 1939: The nature of geography: a critical survey of current thought in the light of the past. Lancaster, PA: Association of American Geographers. Schaefer, F.K. 1953: Exceptionalism in geography: a methodological examination. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 43: 226-49.

Suggested Reading Johnston, R.J. 1991: Geography and geographers: Anglo-American human geography since 1945, 5th edn. London: Edward Arnold; New York: Halsted, 55-61.



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