Galileo and the indispensability of scientific thought experiment

By carefully examining one of the most famous thought experiments in the history of science—that by which Galileo is said to have refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones—I attempt to show that thought experiments play a distinctive role in scientific inquiry. Reasoning about particular entities within the context of an imaginary scenario can lead to rationally justified concluusions that—given the same initial information—would not be rationally justifiable on the basis of a straightforward argument.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/49.3.397
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K. Khalifa (2013). The Role of Explanation in Understanding. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):161-187.
Claus Beisbart (2012). How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge? European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
David Atkinson (2004). Galileo and Prior Philosophy. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (1):115-136.
Richard Arthur (1999). On Thought Experiments as a Priori Science. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (3):215 – 229.

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