Weber in his article of ” Objective Possibility and Adequate Causation in Historical Explanation” says:
What, then, is meant when we speak of a number of “possibilities” between which those contests are said to have “decided”?
“It involves first the production of -let us say It calmly -“imaginative constructs” by the disregarding of one or more of those elements of “reality” which are actually present, and by the mental construction of a course of events which is altered through modification in one or more conditions.” Even the first step towards an historical Judgment is thus – this IS to be emphasized – a process of abstraction. This process proceeds through the analysis and mental isolation of the components of the directly given data – which are to be taken as a complex of possible causal relations – and should culminate in a synthesis of the “real” causal complex: Even this first step thus transforms the given “reality” into a “mental construct” in order to make It into an historical fact I In Goethe’s words, “theory” is involved in the “fact”.
If now one examines these “Judgments of possibility”- ie, the propositions regarding what “would” happen in the event of the exclusion or modification of certain conditions – somewhat more closely and inquires: how are we really to arrive at them – there can be no doubt that it is a matter of isolation and generalizations .This means that we so decompose the “given” into “components” that every one of them is fitted into an “empirical role” hence, that It can be determined what effect each of them, with others present as “conditions,” “could be expected” to have, in accordance with an empirical rule.” (Weber, 1949:173-174)
Weber, Max (1949) The Methodology of the Social Science, Freely translated by Edward A. Shils and Henry A. Finch
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