Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Counterfactual Constitutionalism: The American Civil War and the Framing of Australia’s Constitution

30 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2011  

Helen Irving

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: April 1, 2011

Abstract

Counterfactual history - the construction of imagined, fact-like scenarios arising from the alteration of antecedents and consequents in real past events - is a controversial business. Among supporters, counterfactualism is defended as serving a valuable heuristic function, and furnishing questions to drive research. But can the knowledge generated by counterfactual history have a real-world, functional application? Is it possible to use what we learn from counterfactualism, not just for future research, but to pre-empt or alter the future? Constitution-making provides us with one answer. This proposition is illustrated with a discussion of the use made of the American Civil War by the framers of Australia’s Constitution in the 1890s.

Keywords: constitutional history, comparative constitutionalism, counterfactual history, history and law

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Irving, Helen, Counterfactual Constitutionalism: The American Civil War and the Framing of Australia’s Constitution (April 1, 2011). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1800484

Helen Irving (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Paper statistics

Downloads
107
Rank
217,636
Abstract Views
732