Beginning with Schaeffer's (1953) famous attack on what he called exceptionalism, the claim central of the idiographic approach that history and geography are only concerned with the unique aspects of individual places, the discipline began a transition into a nomothetic body of knowledge, one that sought general laws of explanation independent of time and space. Whereas idiographic understanding sought to uncover all the aspects of one place, nomothetic understanding sought to reveal how one phenomenon varied among many places.

The idiographic-nomothetic debate, also known as the systematic versus regional geography debate, raged throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. This clash of views essentially involved the question whether geography should be involved in general laws of understanding, that is, the relative emphasis on regional differences versus regional ...

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