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Historical Explanations Always Involve Counterfactual History

Forthcoming, Journal of Philosophy of History

7 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2015  

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: September 15, 2015

Abstract

Historical explanations are a form of counterfactual history. To offer an explanation of what happened, historians have to identify causes, and whenever they identify causes, they immediately conjure up a counterfactual history, a parallel world. No one doubts that there is a great deal of distance between science fiction novelists and the world’s great historians, but along an important dimension, they are playing the same game.

Keywords: ‪counterfactual history, randomized controlled trials‬

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., Historical Explanations Always Involve Counterfactual History (September 15, 2015). Forthcoming, Journal of Philosophy of History. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2661046 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2661046

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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