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Introduction: Why What If?

Gregory Radick
Isis
Vol. 99, No. 3 (September 2008), pp. 547-551
DOI: 10.1086/591712
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/591712
Page Count: 5
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Introduction: Why What If?
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Like the people they study, historians of science make conjectures about what might have been. Unlike scientists, however, historians of science have no tradition of self-consciousness about counterfactual methods. The essays in this Focus section are conversation starters toward that missing tradition. Examining diverse sciences and periods, they dwell in particular on how historians of science can know about what might have been (counterfactualist epistemology) and on what hangs in the balance when endorsing this or that claim about what might have been (counterfactualist politics).

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