This post is a brief abstract for a talk I will give. Further discussion about the topics can be found in (at least) the following posts:
Futures studies attempt to identify possible and desirable futures. I argue that every judgment about causality in history implies a commitment to certain future scenarios. There are two interrelated versions of this thesis, a purely theoretical one and a value-laden one. The theoretical version says that historiography generates possible futures. The value-laden version says that historiography generates desirable futures.
The theoretical thesis: In order to judge the explanatory force of a cause, we have to judge what would have happened in scenarios where the cause is absent. In order to construct the counterfactual scenarios, we have to make our theoretical commitments explicit. These commitments generate the structure of the counterfactual scenarios. The theoretical commitments also imply certain structures for possible futures and, therefore, every historiographical explanation generates a set of possible futures whether we like it or not.
The value-laden thesis: In order to judge the explanatory force of a cause, we have to judge how invariantly it is connected to the outcome. Invariances are significant because they allow us to achieve certain goals. Given this, we need to identify relevant invariances on the basis of our goals. Because explanatory force depends on invariance and relevant invariance on our goals, explanatory force depends on our goals. Judging the explanatory force of a cause, therefore, requires that one has some goal in mind. In order to assess the relative merits of two judgments of explanatory force, we have to judge how reasonable the goals behind the judgments are. In order to judge how reasonable the goals are, we have to rely on values. Given this essential commitment to values in historiography, every historiographical explanation generates a set of desirable futures whether we like it or not.