Counterfactuals, Thought Experiments, and Singular Causal Analysis in History

@article{Reiss2009CounterfactualsTE,
  title={Counterfactuals, Thought Experiments, and Singular Causal Analysis in History},
  author={Julian Reiss},
  journal={Philosophy of Science},
  year={2009},
  volume={76},
  pages={712 - 723}
}
  • J. Reiss
  • Published 1 December 2009
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
Thought experiments are ubiquitous in science and especially prominent in domains in which experimental and observational evidence is scarce. One such domain is the causal analysis of singular events in history. A long‐standing tradition that goes back to Max Weber addresses the issue by means of ‘what‐if’ counterfactuals. In this paper I give a descriptive account of this widely used method and argue that historians following it examine difference makers rather than causes in the philosopher’s… 
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