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. (shrink)
Case studies of diverse scientific fields show how scientists use a range of resources to generate new interpretative models and to establish their plausibility as explanations of a domain. They accomplish this by manipulating imagistic representations in particular ways. I show that scientists in different domains use the same basic transformations. Common features of these transformations indicate that general cognitive strategies of interpretation, simplification, elaboration, and argumentation are at work. Social and historical studies of science emphasize the diversity of local (...) contexts of practice. However, the existence of common strategies shows that this diversity masks an important repertoire of cognitive strategies. Scientists use this repertoire to adapt their representations to meet the cognitive demands of different contexts of practice. This paper considers the implications of this finding for the notion of scientists as cognitive agents in distributed knowledge-producing systems. (shrink)
We argue from the Church-Turing thesis (Kleene Mathematical logic. New York: Wiley 1967) that a program can be considered as equivalent to a formal language similar to predicate calculus where predicates can be taken as functions. We can relate such a calculus to Wittgenstein’s first major work, the Tractatus, and use the Tractatus and its theses as a model of the formal classical definition of a computer program. However, Wittgenstein found flaws in his initial great work and he explored these (...) flaws in a new thesis described in his second great work; the Philosophical Investigations. The question we address is “can computer science make the same leap?” We are proposing, because of the flaws identified by Wittgenstein, that computers will never have the possibility of natural communication with people unless they become active participants of human society. The essential difference between formal models used in computing and human communication is that formal models are based upon rational sets whereas people are not so restricted. We introduce irrational sets as a concept that requires the use of an abductive inference system. However, formal models are still considered central to our means of using hypotheses through deduction to make predictions about the world. These formal models are required to continually be updated in response to peoples’ changes in their way of seeing the world. We propose that one mechanism used to keep track of these changes is the Peircian abductive loop. (shrink)
Syntactic and structural models specify relationships between their constituents but cannot show what outcomes their interaction would produce over time in the world. Simulation consists in iterating the states of a model, so as to produce behaviour over a period of simulated time. Iteration enables us to trace the implications and outcomes of inference rules and other assumptions implemented in the models that make up a theory. We apply this method to experiments which we treat as models of the particular (...) aspects of reality they are designed to investigate. Scientific experiments are constantly designed and re-designed in the context of implementation and use. They mediate between theoretical understanding and the practicalities of engaging with the empirical and social world. In order to model experiments we need to identify and represent features that all experiments have in common. We treat these features as parameters of a general model of experiment so that by varying these parameters different types of experiment can be modelled. (shrink)
Abstract Philosophical discussions of experiment usually focus exclusively on testing predictions. In this paper I compare G. Morpurgo's experimental test of the Gell?Mann/ Zweig quark hypothesis with two neglected uses of experiment: constructing representations of new phenomena and inventing the instruments that produce such phenomena. These roles are illustrated by J. B. Biot's 1821 observations of electromagnetism and by Michael Faraday's invention of the first electromagnetic motor, also in 1821. The comparison identifies similarities between observation and experiment, showing how both (...) observation and experiment actively engage the natural world and how each engagement shapes representation and subsequent empirical work. This challenges the post?empiricist assumption of the sufficiency of knowing only the outcomes of experiments. I conclude that traditional views of observational access have looked in the wrong place for empirical constraints on theorizing. The active character of observation implies that a realist interpretation of experimenters? discourse should be grounded in the fine structure of experimental practice rather than the supposedly decisive, golden events favoured by hypothetico?deductive methodology. (shrink)
: Faraday is often described as an experimentalist, but his work is a dialectical interplay of concrete objects, visual images, abstract, theoretically-informed visual models and metaphysical precepts. From phenomena described in terms of patterns formed by lines of force he created a general explanation of space-filling systems of force which obey both empirical laws and principles of conservation and economy. I argue that Faraday's articulation of situated experience via visual models into a theory capable of verbal expression owed much to (...) his strategy of moving—via conjectural visual models—between the phenomenology of particulars (often displayed as patterns) and the general features of dynamical phenomena which he depicted as structures. (shrink)
We argue that abduction does not work in isolation from other inference mechanisms and illustrate this through an inference scheme designed to evaluate multiple hypotheses. We use game theory to relate the abductive system to actions that produce new information. To enable evaluation of the implications of this approach we have implemented the procedures used to calculate the impact of new information in a computer model. Experiments with this model display a number of features of collective belief-revision leading to consensus-formation, (...) such as the influence of bias and prejudice. The scheme of inferential calculations invokes a Peircian concept of ‘belief’ as the propensity to choose a particular course of action. (shrink)
I outline a pragmatic view of scientists' use of observation which draws attention to non-discursive, instrumental and social contexts of observation, in order to explain scientists' agreement about the appearance and significance of new phenomena. I argue that: observation is embedded in a network of activities, techniques, and interests; that experimentalists make construals of new phenomena which enable them communicate exploratory techniques and their outcomes, and that empirical enquiry consists of communicative, exploratory and predictive strategies whose interdependence ensures that, notwithstanding (...) the constructedness of representations and the empirical underdetermination of theories, observations contain information about the natural world. (shrink)
The Findlay & Walker model of saccade generation does not appear to account fully for saccadic performance deficits observed in schizophrenia patients. It would be enhanced by inclusion of a frontally mediated, central executive function system. A review of schizophrenia patients' antisaccade task deficits provides an example of the role of higher cortical functioning in saccade generation.
The Phillips & Silverstein model of NMDA-mediated coordination deficits provides a useful heuristic for the study of schizophrenic cognition. However, the model does not specifically account for the development of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. The P&S model is compared to Meehl's seminal model of schizotaxia, schizotypy, and schizophrenia, as well as the model of schizophrenic cognitive dysfunction posited by McCarley and colleagues.
A hippocampal patient is described who shows preserved item recognition and simple recognition-based recollection but impaired recall and associative recognition. These data and other evidence suggest that contrary to Aggleton & Brown's target article, Papez circuit damage impairs only complex item-item-context recollection. A patient with perirhinal cortex damage and a delayed global memory deficit, apparently inconsistent with A&B's framework, is also described.
As to the preference which most people—as long as they are not annoyed by instances—feel in favor of true propositions, this must be based, apparently, upon an ultimate ethical proposition: ‘It is good to believe true propositions, and bad to believe false ones’. This proposition, it is to be hoped, is true; but if it is not, there is no reason to think that we do ill in believing it. Bertrand Russell, “Meinong’s Theory of Complexes and Assumptions” (1904).
All three authors range themselves against John Norton's deductive analysis of thought experiments. Brown's insight, Nersessian's mental modelling, and Gooding's embodiment, arise, in each case, from a major all-purpose philosophical theory. None reaches down to the specific level of thought experiments, which are small, rare, and precious. I urge attention to Wittgenstein's remark that "the experimental character disappears when one looks at the process as a memorable picture." Thought experiments are not experiments. They are static. They become fixed, more (...) like jokes or optical illusions. Unlike real experiments, they have no life of their own. (shrink)
Models carry the meaning of science. This puts a tremendous burden on the process of model selection. In general practice, models are selected on the basis of their relative goodness of fit to data penalized by model complexity. However, this may not be the most effective approach for selecting models to answer a specific scientific question because model fit is sensitive to all aspects of a model, not just those relevant to the question. Model Structural Adequacy analysis is proposed as (...) a means to select models based on their ability to answer specific scientific questions given the current understanding of the relevant aspects of the real world. (shrink)
This is a contribution to a symposium on Clark and Dudrick’s The Soul of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I focus on three aspects of their book. First, I critique Clark and Dudrick’s claim that Nietzsche recognizes a discrete “will to value.” Second, I argue that Clark and Dudrick’s reading of Nietzschean drives (Triebe) as homunculi is indefensible. Third, I raise questions about their claim that Nietzsche understands the self as a “normative ordering” of drives, which they distinguish from a (...) “causal ordering”; I suggest that Nietzsche would reject this causal/normative distinction. (shrink)
Because we are often nagged by the thought that we might not have behaved any differently than those good citizens whose respect for the law and fear of punishment led them to support the Nazi regime, we are fascinated with the behavior of ordinary Germans. Careful to first strip away the pathological explanations of German behavior, Pellegrino and Thomasma ask simply whether ordinary Germans could have reasoned and, by implication, acted differently. Although their affirmative answer is consistent with the activism (...) we have all come to demand of the Germans, it is not clear whether we, ourselves, can lay full claim to the moral high ground. (shrink)
The Scylla and Charybdis of institutions of cooperative enterprises are the potential for free riders, on the one hand, and the fact that some people may not value certain public goods. If we go to the one side, we encourage people who do value the public goods but whom cannot be excluded from enjoying them, to refuse to pay their share of the costs of providing them; if we go to the other side and force everyone to pay for them, (...) we make people who do not value the public goods subsidize those who do and who perhaps have gained special control over the agenda of selecting which public goods are to be required. (shrink)
Kant’s body offered a constant target for his own remarks, both in correspondence and during his lunchtime conversations. Several good descriptions of Kant’s body have come down to us over the centuries, as well as a number of visual representations, but these are remarkably limited, given his stature in the world of ideas. A new description of Kant, written by a novelist who visited Kant while passing through Königsberg, has recently come to light. It is reproduced here — in English (...) translation as well as the original German — and earlier descriptions of Kant are briefly recounted. (shrink)
“What is abduction?” asks Jaakko Hintikka in the title to his 1998 article on C. S. Peirce’s concept. The answer to Hintikka’s question is problematic on several counts. There is, to begin with, a difference between Peirce’s own views on abduction and later interpretations of abduction as “inference to the best explanation” (Minnameier 2004; Paavola 2006). There are, furthermore, tensions within Peirce’s own account of abduction, for instance, a tension between “inferential” and “instinctual” aspects of abduction (Fann 1970; Anderson 1986; (...) Kapitan 1990; Paavola 2005; Paavola and Hakkarainen 2005). These tensions are exacerbated by two factors. First, there are several terminological variants of the word .. (shrink)
An explorative contribution to the ongoing discussion of thought experiments. While endorsing the majority view that skepticism about thought experiments is not well justified, in what follows we attempt to show that there is a kind of “bodiliness” missing from current accounts of thought experiments. That is, we suggest a phenomenological addition to the literature. First, we contextualize our claim that the importance of the body in thought experiments has been widely underestimated. Then we discuss DavidGooding's work, (...) which contains the only explicit recognition of the importance of the body to understanding thought experiments. Finally, we introduce a phenomenological perspective of the body, which will give us the opportunity to sketch the power and promise of a phenomenological approach to thought experiments. (shrink)
We argue from the Church-Turing thesis (Kleene Mathematical logic . New York: Wiley 1967) that a program can be considered as equivalent to a formal language similar to predicate calculus where predicates can be taken as functions. We can relate such a calculus to Wittgenstein’s first major work, the Tractatus , and use the Tractatus and its theses as a model of the formal classical definition of a computer program. However, Wittgenstein found flaws in his initial great work (...) and he explored these flaws in a new thesis described in his second great work; the Philosophical Investigations . The question we address is “can computer science make the same leap?” We are proposing, because of the flaws identified by Wittgenstein, that computers will never have the possibility of natural communication with people unless they become active participants of human society. The essential difference between formal models used in computing and human communication is that formal models are based upon rational sets whereas people are not so restricted. We introduce irrational sets as a concept that requires the use of an abductive inference system. However, formal models are still considered central to our means of using hypotheses through deduction to make predictions about the world. These formal models are required to continually be updated in response to peoples’ changes in their way of seeing the world. We propose that one mechanism used to keep track of these changes is the Peircian abductive loop. (shrink)