This is a question on the historical method, or historiography. If it does not belong here, please kindly remove it and redirect me to a more appropriate place, thanks!
I'm currently researching on the topic of historical reasoning. I have noticed that counterfactual reasoning features dominantly in explaining the causes of events, with the schema "had X not done Y, then Z would not have occurred." Is there an argument for the legitimacy of such reasoning in history? Such statements seem (pardon me) little more than thought experiments.
Another kind of reasoning that I have seen is analogical reasoning. So for instance, historians pick out certain similarities between revolutions and elicit certain common causal factors.
(Thanks to Semaphore for this development.) A recent example of how laypeople use analogical reasoning is the downing of MH17, where many were quick to draw similarities between KAL 007 (see this for example).
I am not a practising historian, and I would really like to have some insights into the historical method.