Nature’s Experiments and Natural Experiments in the Social Sciences

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (3):341-357 (2013)
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This article explores the characteristics of research sites that scientists have called “natural experiments” to understand and develop usable distinctions for the social sciences between “Nature’s or Society’s experiments” and “natural experiments.” In this analysis, natural experiments emerge as the retro-fitting by social scientists of events that have happened in the social world into the traditional forms of field or randomized trial experiments. By contrast, “Society’s experiments” figure as events in the world that happen in circumstances that are already sufficiently “controlled” to be open for direct analysis without reconstruction work



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Mary Morgan
London School of Economics

Citations of this work

The usefulness of well-being temporalism.Gil Hersch - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-15.
Why experiments matter.Arnon Levy & Adrian Currie - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (9-10):1066-1090.
Exemplification and the use-values of cases and case studies.Mary S. Morgan - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 78 (C):5-13.
Imagination Rather Than Observation in Econometrics: Ragnar Frisch’s Hypothetical Experiments as Thought Experiments.Catherine Herfeld - 2019 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9 (1):35-74.
Testing hypotheses in macroevolution.Lindell Bromham - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 55:47-59.

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