On the very idea of a thought experiment

In Katerina Ierodiakonou & Sophie Roux (eds.), Thought Experiments in Methodological and Historical Contexts. Brill (2011)

Authors
Sophie Roux
École Normale Supérieure
Abstract
Goffi and Roux are interested in what makes some thought experiments work, while others do not work. They do not attempt to draw an a priori line between two types of thought experiments, but rather ask the following question: inasmuch as thought experiments are arguments, and notwithstanding the fact that some of them might involve the contemplation of an imaginary scenario, how is it that some of them work, while others do not? Taking inspiration from a counterfactual thought experiment presented by Nicholas Rescher, they treat thought experiments as argumentative procedures resembling tests of consistency, which invite the experimenter to seek the weakest link in her body of beliefs. Equipped with this method, they examine two well-known successful thought experiments (Galileo’s two bodies strapped together, and Thomson’s violinist) and discuss Mach’s notion of thought experiments. Thus they reach the hypothesis that successful thought experiments respect the three following conditions: they do not deal with things, but with beliefs; they mobilise a set of beliefs shared by the interlocutors; and this set of beliefs has a hierarchical structure. Using once again examples written at different periods and taken from various disciplines (Descartes’ receding bodies, Aristotle’s weaving shuttles), Goffi and Roux argue that each of those conditions is individually necessary for a thought experiment to work. They finally conclude on the limits and consequences of their approach.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,177
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Thought Experiments Are Not Arguments.Michael A. Bishop - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (4):534-541.
Experiments and Thought Experiments in Natural Science.David Atkinson - 2001 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 232:209-226.
Empirical Thought Experiments: A Trascendental-Operational View.Buzzoni Marco - 2010 - Epistemologia. An Italian Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33:05-26.
Rethinking Thought Experiments.Alisa Bokulich - 2001 - Perspectives on Science 9 (3):285-307.
When Are Thought Experiments Poor Ones?Jeanne Peijnenburg & David Atkinson - 2003 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 34 (2):305-322.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-04-22

Total views
26 ( #436,733 of 2,499,401 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,166 of 2,499,401 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes