This text with readings helps students understand the nature and pu. While philosophical and scientific thought experiments have stolen most. Thought experiments in science and philosophy philsciarchive. I argue that it is not possible to make sense of the historical trajectory of certain thought experiments if one takes them to be arguments. Department of philosophy and religious studies, concordia.
Nov 09, 2017 hope you enjoyed this philosophy video and hope this made you consider taking a philosophy class next semester. There are other creatures which feature in thought experiments about philosophy. Pdf introduction to thought experiments in science and. Horowitz, tamara and massey, gerald 1991 thought experiments in science and philosophy. Whatever thought experiments really are, they have been instrumental in the progress of both philosophy and science, and they constitute a powerful tool for understanding the world. Presenting the first general theory of thought experiment, he sets it within an evolutionary framework and integrates recent advances in experimental psychology and the history of science, with special emphasis on ernst mach and thomas kuhn. Looking at the development of the discussion about thought experiments over the past thirty years, it is fair to say that thought experiments were primarily an important topic in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of philosophy metaphilosophy, before the scope widened up at a later point. Scientific thought experimentsespecially those in physicsare the clear cases, so my primary goal is to establish true and interesting generalizations about them. Others maintain that truly informative thought experiments are found only in mathematics and the natural sciences. A thought experiment is an experiment that takes place in the mind of a scientist.
Philosophy offers numerous examples of thought experiments that play a role similar in importance to some scientific thought experiments. Is this really the case, and if so, why might that be. Scientific thought experimentsespecially those in physicsare the clear. Sorensen explores what thought experiments are, how they work, and what their virtues and vices are. These two objections, however, may be thought to target the use of thought experiments in subdisciplines of philosophy such as political theory and moral theory where thought experiments are deployed not only for conceptual and logical purposes, but also for. It contains sixtytwo specially commissioned entries by a leading team of international contributors. Thought experiments stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Thought experiments in the history of philosophy of. Nov 26, 2016 the paper addresses the question of the nature and limits of philosophical thought experiments. If youre interested in reading more about utilitarianism. Contents click on titles for links to individual pdfs preface. Thought experiment simple english wikipedia, the free. For this reason, he claims, it is possible to understand philosophical thought experiments by concentrating on their resemblance to scientific relatives.
Featuring numerous updates and enhancements, science fiction and philosophy, 2nd edition, presents a collection of readings that utilize concepts developed from science fiction to explore a variety of classic and contemporary philosophical issues. Only on these platonically inspired assumptions does it make sense to bypass. Their structure and function1 lukas bielik department of logic and methodology of sciences faculty of philosophy comenius university in bratislava project apvv 014912 1. Understanding the reasons behind using thought experiments, we should now understand that thought experiments can be relevant even if a situation is absurd and extremely unlikely to happen in reality. My research focuses on creativity, innovation and conceptual change in science. Pdf it is well established that thought experiments are both scientifically and. Thought experiments in science, philosophy and the arts pp. Unlike with a reallife experiment where change is actually seen and perhaps measured, thought experiments are done just to show a special way of thinking. Iv analytic philosophys commitment to thought experiment, 15. Contents click on titles for links to individual pdfs. Philosophers writing on thought experiments divide into two camps.
The impossible barber and other bizarre thought experiments. Thought experiments used in physics are the experiments that do not need to be done, in actual fact, but designed to reveal the essence of the problem and they are thought to find out the results. Think of gettierstyle cases when you read this thought experiment. Why, what and how till gruneyanoff royal institute of technology kth, stockholm finnish centre of excellence in the philosophy of the social sciences, helsinki tint forthcoming in european journal for philosophy of science. If the ship of theseus has its components replaced throughout its journey, does it at any point become a different ship. These thought experiments introduce students to the kind of disciplined thought required in philosophy, and awaken their intellectual curiosity. Scientific thought experiments especially those in physicsare the clear cases, so my primary goal is to establish true and interesting generalizations about them.
Thought experiments cooper 2005 metaphilosophy wiley. Thought experiments crucial considerations a science. It serves as a model of how id like theorizing about thought experiments to go. Thought experiments from a kantian point of view marco buzzoni 6. This volume originated in a conference on the place of thought experiments in science and philosophy which was organized by us and held at the center for philosophy of science at the university of pittsburgh, april 1820, 1986. In order to figure out when this is the case, we can use cleverly constructed thought experiments to push the edges of our moral beliefs. Jan 08, 2016 susan schneider is a philosophy professor at the university of connecticut and a fellow with the american council of learned societies. It is often not possible to do these experiments in real life, but by doing them in our heads we can learn something new about the nature of reality, about right and wrong, the existence of god and many other topics. Uses science fiction to address a series of classic and contemporary philosophical issues, including many raised by recent scientific developments. Thought experiments and the belief in phenomena philosophy.
The philosophy of science is a field that deals with what science is, how it works, and the logic through which we build scientific knowledge. Success here will radiate to my secondary goal of understanding philosophical thought experiments. How inventing riddles has revealed the flaws in our grasp of reality. The ancient greek deiknymi, or thought experiment, was the most ancient pattern of mathematical proof, and existed before euclidean mathematics, where the emphasis was on the conceptual, rather than on the experimental part of a thoughtexperiment perhaps the key experiment in the history of modern science is galileos demonstration that falling objects must. In his view, philosophy differs from science in degree, but not in kind. International studies in the philosophy of science, 11, 115. All you need is your mind because all the steps take place in your mind. On thought experiments as a priori science article pdf available in international studies in the philosophy of science 3. Thought experiments in science and philosophy philsci. Collected thought experiments in philosophy is a brief collection of over 100 classic and contemporary thought experiments, each exploring an important philosophical argument.
The first argues that thought experiments in philosophy and science should be treated together. Rosenberg offers a superb introduction to the epistemological and metaphysical issues at stake in modern science. Many positivists used thought experiments and were interested in the methodology of science, yet they appear to be relatively silent on the topic. Why thought experiments are not arguments philosophy of. The darwinian demon is a hypothetical organism which can simultaneously maximize all aspects of its fitness. Introduction to thought experiments in science and philosophy. Thought experiment acquires evidential significance only on particular metaphysical assumptions. The second examines existing accounts of thought experiments and shows why they are inadequate. May 11, 2016 the impossible barber and other bizarre thought experiments. Thought experiments routledge encyclopedia of philosophy.
Thought experiment and the exercise of imagination in science james w. In this website, we present a rough synthesis of some new and some old ideas from the philosophy of science. Naomi picked it up and couldnt help but notice the small white rabbits foot dangling fromit. Platonism in the philosophy of mathematics, though a minority. Philosophers who view all hypothetical reasoning as a form of thought experimentation regard the method as being as old as philosophy itself. Philosophers use thought experiments, short stories that bring out intuitions. In it, he employs a demon with special metaphysical knowledge as an agent for forcing reevaluation of perspective on ones own life. The idea behind this conference was to encourage philosophers and scientists to talk to each other about the role of thought experiments in their various. Thought experiments in philosophy, science and the arts by.
Thought experiments have been used in philosophy especially ethics, physics, and other fields such as cognitive psychology, history, political science, economics, social psychology, law, organizational studies, marketing, and epidemiology. And relative to that goal many thought experiments in science are just as unreliable. A critical discussion of the early rival accounts of thought experiments. True, sometimes they dont work, but the same can be said for physical experiments. Nersessian, professor of cognitive science at the georgia institute of technology. Thought experiments in the history of philosophy of science.
Thought experiments philosophy oxford bibliographies. Are these experiments, conducted uniquely in our imagination, simply rhetorical dev. Many of the items on this list we cherish as valuable tools for philosophical instruction, and with good reason. Thought experiments in science, philosophy, and the arts. In law, the synonym hypothetical is frequently used for such experiments. But in fact thought experiments in science play a varied role and i will suggest that knowledge production is a goal only under quite limited circumstances. Einstein and bohr disagreed about the outcome of the clock in thebox thought experiment, and so they reconstructed it using different arguments. Collectively, the contributions in the last section discuss how thought experiments in biology, economics and political philosophy differ from those in physics, whether some works of literature and film can be properly understood as thought experiments, and whether computational models are supplanting thought experiments.
The routledge companion to philosophy of science is an indispensable reference source and guide to the major themes, debates, problems and topics in philosophy of science. Thought experiments what i call thought experiments is a smaller class than that which usually goes under that name in the literature. From lucretius throwing a spear beyond the boundary of the universe to einstein racing against a beam of light, thought experiments stand as a fascinating challenge to the necessity of data in the empirical sciences. This is to be expected whenever scientists disagree about a. Thought experiments and intuition pumps in philosophy. This article seeks to explain how thought experiments work, and also the reasons why they can fail. The body, thought experiments, and phenomenology yiftach fehige and harald wiltsche 5. This semester, we will engage our brains by tackling the following big questions. Hope you enjoyed this philosophy video and hope this made you consider taking a philosophy class next semester. Especially concerned with the relation between thought experiments and modal notions necessity and possibility. By my stipulation, thought experiments have four characteristics that distinguish them from intuition pumps. In rebuttal, john norton argues that thought experiments can be understood in empiricist terms, and calls for a more thorough analysis of the epistemology of thought experiments. These include the thesis that science aims at uncovering phenomenauniversal and stable modes in which the world is articulatedand the thesis that phenomena are revealed imperfectly in actual occurrences. Introduction1 section 1 thought experiments in the history of science and philosophy.835 828 843 1314 1165 1340 362 1081 1264 1343 1538 691 532 1302 959 641 669 1495 1528 574 101 756 81 818 48 1261 658 1111 454 1445 366 881 603 324 49 652 947 168 32 620 1131