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.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Irving on The American Civil War and the Framing of Australia's Constitution
Posted by Mary L. Dudziak
Counterfactual Constitutionalism: The American Civil War and the Framing of Australia’s Constitution has just been posted by Helen Irving, University of Sydney - Faculty of Law. Here's the abstract: