David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Katerina Ierodiakonou & Sophie Roux (eds.), Thought Experiments in Methodological and Historical Contexts. Brill (2011)
Thought experiments have a mysterious way of informing us about the world, apparently without examining it, yet with a great degree of certainty. It is tempting to try to explain this capacity by making use of the idea that in thought experiments, the mind somehow simulates the processes about which it reaches conclusions. Here, I test this idea. I argue that when they predict the outcomes of hypothetical physical situations, thought experiments cannot simulate physical processes. They use mental models, which should not be confused with process-driven simulations. A convincing case can be made that thought experiments about hypothetical mental processes are mental simulations. Concerning moral thought experiments, I argue that construing them as simulations of mental processes favours certain moral theories over others. The scope of mental simulation in thought experiments is primarily limited by the constraint of relevant similarity on source and target processes: on one hand, this constraint disqualifies thought from simulating external natural processes; on the other hand, it is a source of epistemic bias in moral thought experiments. In view of these results, I conclude that thought experiments and mental simulations cannot be assimilated as means of acquiring knowledge.
|Keywords||thought experiments physical thought experiments moral thought experiments|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Edouard Machery (2011). Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge. Metaphilosophy 42 (3):191-214.
Marisa Velasco (2002). Experimentacion y Tecnicas Computacionales. Theoria 17 (2):317-331.
Alisa Bokulich (2001). Rethinking Thought Experiments. Perspectives on Science 9 (3):285-307.
Martin Bunzl (1996). The Logic of Thought Experiments. Synthese 106 (2):227 - 240.
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.
Denny Borsboom, Gideon J. Mellenbergh & Jaap van Heerden (2002). Functional Thought Experiments. Synthese 130 (3):379 - 387.
Elke Brendel (2004). Intuition Pumps and the Proper Use of Thought Experiments. Dialectica 58 (1):89–108.
Nebojsa Kujundzic (1998). The Role of Variation in Thought Experiments. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (3):239 – 243.
Added to index2009-05-30
Total downloads192 ( #3,511 of 1,101,812 )
Recent downloads (6 months)13 ( #17,590 of 1,101,812 )
How can I increase my downloads?