This chapter examines the use of counterfactual analysis in making causal inferences in the qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. To assess a counterfactual claim about a particular case, the typical approach is to conduct a within-case analysis of that case. Qualitative researchers formulate counterfactuals that are “conceivable,” in the sense that imagining that a cause had not occurred (or occurred differently) does not require fundamentally rewriting history. By contrast, quantitative scholars use counterfactuals mainly to illustrate a general causal model. The chapter first considers the Fundamental Problem of Causal Inference, which is the problem of a counterfactual, before discussing the statistical approach to counterfactuals. In particular, it describes the “minimum rewrite” rule. It suggests that counterfactual analyses are an important mode of causal inference within the qualitative tradition, but not commonly used within the quantitative tradition.
Keywords: counterfactual analysis, causal inference, quantitative research, within-case analysis, qualitative research, counterfactuals, causal model, Fundamental Problem of Causal Inference, minimum rewrite rule
Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.