What Are We to Think about Thought Experiments?

Argumentation 17 (2):203-217 (2003)
Arguments from thought experiment ask the reader to imagine some hypothetical, sometimes exotic, often fantastic, scenario for the sake of illustrating or countering some claim. Variously characterized as mental experimentation, imaginary cases, and even crazy cases, thought experiments figure into both scientific and philosophical arguments. They are often criticized for their fictive nature and for their lack of grounding. Nevertheless, they are common especially in arguments in ethics and philosophy of mind. Moreover, many thought experiments have spawned variations that attempt to both affirm and refute their original arguments. These emended thought experiments exhibit a variety of styles, details, and embellishments. A rhetorical analysis of these variations suggests a reciprocal influence between the arguers' selection of details and their philosophical commitments. I offer examples of this relationship from the variations on John Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment and Judith Thomson's unconscious violinist thought experiment
Keywords Analogy  argument  Chinese Room  gendankenexperiment  hypothetical  narrative  philosophy of mind  rhetoric  thought experiment
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1024071710337
 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
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,651
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

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Buzzoni Marco (2010). Empirical Thought Experiments: A Trascendental-Operational View. Epistemologia. An Italian Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33:05-26.
Aspasia S. Moue, Kyriakos A. Masavetas & Haido Karayianni (2006). Tracing the Development of Thought Experiments in the Philosophy of Natural Sciences. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (1):61 - 75.
Ksenija Puškarić (2007). Brown and Berkeley. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 7 (2):177-180.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

59 ( #81,674 of 1,902,713 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #446,006 of 1,902,713 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

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