Institutional Scholarship

The Perils of Imagination: Why Historians Don't Like Counterfactuals

Show simple item record Burke, Timothy, 1964- 2015-05-06T14:37:49Z 2015-05-06T14:37:49Z 2015-02-10
dc.description.abstract Counterfactuals are studies of might-have-beens, events that could have happened. Counterfactual thinking has an important place in human cognition and behavior and is accordingly studied by some psychologists. There are other academic disciplines like philosophy that also see counterfactuals as an important legitimate area of inquiry. Historians, however, have often viewed counterfactuals with wariness at best, contempt at worst. That is, when they think about them at all. Tim Burke will talk about why he nevertheless finds it useful to teach a course on counterfactual history and describe the current state of play in the debate among historians and other social scientists about "might-have-beens." Among other points, he hopes to show how the discussion of counterfactuals illustrates history's uneasy location in the borderlands between the social sciences and the humanities. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Swarthmore College. Dept. of History en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Frank Aydelotte Foundation for the Advancement of the Liberal Arts
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Swarthmore College
dc.title The Perils of Imagination: Why Historians Don't Like Counterfactuals en_US
dc.description.note Part of the Second Tuesday Social Science Cafe series.
dc.type.dcmi Sound

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