Darwinian we are not: counterfactualism as the natural course of history

Hesketh, Ian (2014) Darwinian we are not: counterfactualism as the natural course of history. History and Theory, 53 2: 295-303. doi:10.1111/hith.10712

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Author Hesketh, Ian
Title Darwinian we are not: counterfactualism as the natural course of history
Journal name History and Theory   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0018-2656
Publication date 2014-05-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/hith.10712
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 53
Issue 2
Start page 295
End page 303
Total pages 9
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This article considers Peter Bowler's recent contribution to the genre of counterfactual history as exemplifying a “restrained” counterfactual framework, one that must downplay the role of contingency in the historical process in order to present what Bowler calls a more “natural course” of historical development. This restrained counterfactual methodology is discussed with reference to analogous debates within evolutionary science about the competing roles of contingency and convergence in the history of life, along with recent work done within the humanities about the more subtle nuances of counterfactual reasoning. Although there is little doubt that Bowler's study will help legitimize the genre of counterfactual history, it is argued that the role of contingency—once thought to be integral to the counterfactual—has been necessarily minimized in order to construct a narrative that is a plausible counterfactual history of science. It is in this way that Bowler's world without Darwin sheds light on our historiographical preconceptions about what makes for a plausible historical narrative.
Keyword Counterfactual history
Charles Darwin
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Subtitle: "Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin. By Peter J. Bowler. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Pp. 318."

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
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Created: Thu, 08 May 2014, 19:46:07 EST by Ian Hesketh on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry