What is Experimental about Thought Experiments?

Abstract
I argue that thought experiments are a form of experimental reasoning similar to real experiments. They require the same ability to participate by following a narrative as real experiments do. Participation depends in turn on using what we already know to visualize, manipulate and understand what is unfamiliar or problematic. I defend the claim that visualization requires embodiment by an example which shows how tacit understanding of the properties of represented objects and relations enables us to work out how such objects might behave in a postulated world. This knowledge is that of embodied agents. That thought experiments require embodied participation is what makes them experiments rather than arguments. Unlike real experiments, from which ordinary perception has been displaced by instrumentation, thought experiments still appeal to relatively unmediated common sense, even when their purpose is to criticize or subvert common sense notions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,351
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Margaret Schabas (2008). Hume's Monetary Thought Experiments. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):161-169.
    J. W. McAllister (1996). The Evidential Significance of Thought Experiment in Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 27 (2):233-250.
    Similar books and articles
    Ian Hacking (1992). Do Thought Experiments Have a Life of Their Own? Comments on James Brown, Nancy Nersessian and David Gooding. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:302 - 308.
    Alisa Bokulich (2001). Rethinking Thought Experiments. Perspectives on Science 9 (3):285-307.
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2011-05-29

    Total downloads

    29 ( #50,804 of 1,088,389 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    7 ( #15,229 of 1,088,389 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.