David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Foundations of Science 10 (1):47-66 (2005)
In some of the papers in which she develops and defends the mental modelview of thought experiments in physics, Nersessian expresses the belief that her account has implications for thought experiments in other domains as well. In this paper, I argue, firstly, that counterfactual reasoning has a legitimate place in historical inquiry, and secondly, that the mental model view can account for such "alternative histories". I proceed as follows. Firstly, I review the main accounts of thought experiments in physics and point at some explanatory advantages of the mental model view. Subsequently, I argue that historians cannot dispense with counterfactual reasoning altogether and qualify a number of principled objections against the explicit use of alternative histories for theoretical purposes. Finally, I show that the mental model view can account for such thought experiments in history.
|Keywords||counterfactual analysis counterfactual reasoning historiography history mental models modal reasoning thought experiments|
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References found in this work BETA
Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem (1954). The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Jon Elster (1983). Explaining Technical Change: A Case Study in the Philosophy of Science. Universitetsforlaget.
L. Magnani, N. J. Nersessian & P. Thagard (eds.) (1999). Model-Based Reasoning in Scientific Discovery. Kluwer/Plenum.
James Robert Brown (1991). The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences. Routledge.
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