Counterfactuality is currently a hotly debated topic. While for some disciplines such as linguistics, cognitive science, or psychology counterfactual scenarios have been an important object of study for quite a while, counterfactual thinking has in recent years emerged as a method of study for other disciplines, most notably the social sciences. This volume provides an overview of the current definitions and uses of the concept of counterfactuality in philosophy, historiography, political sciences, psychology, linguistics, physics, and literary studies. The individual contributions not only engage the controversies that the deployment of counterfactual thinking as a method still generates, they also highlight the concept’s potential to promote interdisciplinary exchange without neglecting the limitations and pitfalls of such a project. Moreover, the essays from literary studies, which make up about half of the volume, provide both a historical and a systematic perspective on the manifold ways in which counterfactual scenarios can be incorporated into and deployed in literary texts.
Dorothee Birke and Michael Butter, Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Language and Literature, Freiburg, Germany; Tilmann Köppe, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Courant Research Centre ‘Text Structures’, Göttingen, Germany.