The paper is a contribution to the debate on the epistemological status of thought experiments. I deal with the epistemological uniqueness of experiments in the sense of their irreducibility to other sources of justification. In particular, I criticize an influential argument for the irreducibility of thought experiments to general arguments. First, I introduce the radical empiricist theory of eliminativism, which considers thought experiments to be rhetorically modified arguments, uninteresting from the epistemological point of view. Second, I present objections to the (...) theory, focusing on the critique of eliminativism by Tamar Szabó Gendler based on the reconstruction of famous Galileo's Pisa experiment. I show that her reconstruction is simplistic and that more elaborate reconstruction is needed for an appropriate assessment of the epistemic power of general argument. I propose such a reconstruction and demonstrate that general version of Pisa experiment is epistemically equal to the particular one. Thus, from an epistemological perspective, Galileo's thought experiment is reducible to a straightforward argument without particular premises. (shrink)
In this paper we suggest a revisionist perspective on two significant figures in early modern life science and philosophy: William Harvey and John Locke. Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, is often named as one of the rare representatives of the ‘life sciences’ who was a major figure in the Scientific Revolution. While this status itself is problematic, we would like to call attention to a different kind of problem: Harvey dislikes abstraction and controlled experiments (aside from (...) the ligature experiment in De Motu Cordis), tends to dismiss the value of instruments such as the microscope, and emphasizes instead the privileged status of ‘observed experience’. To use a contemporary term, Harvey appears to rely on, and chiefly value, ‘tacit knowledge’. Secondly, Locke’s project is often explained with reference to the image he uses in the Epistle to the Reader of his Essay, that he was an “underlabourer” of the sciences. In fact, despite the significant medical phase of his career, Locke’s ‘empiricism’ turns out to be above all a practical (i.e. ‘moral’) project, which focuses on the delimitation of our powers in order to achieve happiness, and rejects the possibility of naturalizing knowledge. When combined, these two cases suggest a different view of some canonical moments in early modern natural philosophy. (shrink)
David Bloor’s thought experiment is taken into consideration to suggest that the rationality of the Other cannot be inferred by way of argument for the reason that it is unavoidably contained as a hidden supposition by any argument engaged in proving it. We are able to understand a different culture only as far as we recognize in it the same kind of rationality that works in our own culture. Another kind of rationality is either impossible, or indiscernible.
On the relation between experiment and thought experiment in the natural sciences. To understand the reciprocal autonomy and complementarity of thought and real experiment, it is necessary to distinguish between a ‘positive’ (empirical or formal) and a transcendental perspective. Empirically and formally, real and thought experiments are indistinguishable. However, from a reflexive-transcendental viewpoint thought experiment is at the same time irreducible and complementary to real experiment. This is due to the fact that the hypothetical-anticipatory moment (...) is in principle irreducible to physical reality—even though it refers to physical reality and is bound with the empirical use of our understanding. The presence of counterfactuals is the condition of the possibility for thought experiments to become in principle real ones, by means of a series of technical realisations that gradually approximate the idealisations that they contain. (shrink)
I call an experiment “crucial” when it makes possible a decisive choice between conflicting hypotheses. Joharmsen's selection for size and weight within pure lines of beans played a central role in the controversy over continuity or discontinuity in hereditary change, often known as the Biometrician-Mendelian controversy. The “crucial” effect of this experiment was not an instantaneous event, but an extended process of repeating similar experiments and discussing possible objections. It took years before Johannsen's claim about the genetic stability (...) of pure lines was accepted as conclusively demonstrated by the community of geneticists. The paper also argues that crucial experiments thus interpreted contradict certain ideas about the underdetermination of theories by facts and the theory-ladenness of facts which have been influential in recent history and sociology of science. The acceptance of stability in the pure lines did not rest on prior preference for continuity or discontinuity. And this fact permitted a final choice between the two theories. When such choice is characterized as “decisive” or “final”, this is not meant in an absolute philosophical sense. What we achive in these cases is highly reliable empirical knowledge. The philosophical possibility of drawing (almost) any conclusion in doubt should be distinguished from reasonable doubt in empirical science. (shrink)
This article reintroduces a phenomenological experiment designed in the early 1960’s, The Alien-Hand Experiment (TAHE), and it illustrates how phenomena denoted by theoretical concepts like body image, body schema and agency can be studied via the experiment. An analysis of the verbal reports from 26 subjects who participated in TAHE is presented in this article. Subjects were divided into three groups: A group of non-bulimic men, a group of non-bulimic women and a group of female bulimics. The (...) group of (female) bulimics was studied due to the widely spread notion that subjects suffering from eating disorders have a distorted body image. TAHE can be thought of as both a qualitative and quantitative way to study the phenomena arising when the normal relationship between motor behaviour and body experience is disrupted. The present investigation is not an operational definition of body schema and body image, but the two concepts offer a useful interpretive framework. (shrink)
Abstract We use a controlled laboratory experiment design to test rational choice theory on student whistleblowing. We examine reporting costs by comparing actual reporting behavior under anonymous and non-anonymous reporting channels. Reporting benefits are explored by considering the influence on reporting of group versus individual reward systems. We find that the type of reporting channel does not significantly influence student reporting behavior. Rewarding students based on group test scores results in significantly higher reporting rates compared to a system rewarding (...) students based on individual test scores. Our laboratory research design allows for the measurement of actual reporting. The high reporting rates in this study emphasize the importance of clearly stating what is considered to be unethical behavior and directly asking students about their ethical environment. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s10805-012-9154-7 Authors Iris Jenkel, St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, USA Jason J. Haen, St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, USA Journal Journal of Academic Ethics Online ISSN 1572-8544 Print ISSN 1570-1727. (shrink)
We examine the process of the emission of light from an atom that is in a relative translational motion with respect to the medium at rest in which the electromagnetic excitations propagate. The effect of Lorentz contraction of the of electron orbits on the emitted frequency is incorporated in the Rydberg formula, as well as the emitter’s Doppler effect is acknowledged. The result is that the frequency of the emitted light is modified by a factor that is identical with what (...) is called the ‘relativistic Doppler effect’. The new emission formula is applied for reinterpretation of the Ives-Stilwell experiment and shown that within the second order of approximation with respect to the speeds of the atom and the ‘absolute speed’ (Earth’s speed relative to the medium), the absolute motion does not affect the interference. The expression for the modification of the frequency involves both a first and a second-order term with respect to the speed of the atoms in the cathode tube. The latter turns out to be quantitatively the same as if the time would have changed its rate in the frame moving with the atoms. Thus, a new interpretation of the results of this famous experiment is provided without stipulating time dilation. (shrink)
The problem of how mathematics and physics are related at a foundational level is of interest. The approach taken here is to work towards a coherent theory of physics and mathematics together by examining the theory experiment connection. The role of an implied theory hierarchy and use of computers in comparing theory and experiment is described. The main idea of the paper is to tighten the theory experiment connection by bringing physical theories, as mathematical structures over C, (...) the complex numbers, closer to what is actually done in experimental measurements and computations. The method replaces C by C n which is the set of pairs, R n ,I n , of n figure rational numbers in some basis. The properties of these numbers are based on those of numerical measurement outcomes for continuous variables. A model of space and time based on R n is discussed. The model is scale invariant with regions of constant step size interrupted by exponential jumps. A method of taking the limit n→∞ to obtain locally flat continuum-based space and time is outlined. Also R n based space is invariant under scale transformations. These correspond to expansion and contraction of space relative to a flat background. The location of the origin, which is a space and time singularity, does not change under these transformations. Some properties of quantum mechanics, based on C n and on R n space are briefly investigated. (shrink)
For Rousseau, social contract is a hypothetical one; the paper claims that it is, in contemporary terms, a political thought-experiment (TE). The abductive way of thinking, looking for the best normative pattern in the data, finds its counterpart in the historical abduction in the Second Discourse; the analogy between the two secures the methodological unity of Rousseau’s political philosophy. The proposed reading of the work as a TE shows that it fulfills the necessary requirements put by (hopefully) intuitively acceptable (...) definition of a TE, and fits in the contractarian tradition that has been experimenting with hypothetical arrangements since its start. The reading of The Social Contract as a TE has helped to systematize some of its shortcomings from the wider perspective of methodology of political philosophy. Finally, the political thought experiment (PTE) reading of Rousseau places his central work where it belongs: in the tradition started by Plato’s Republic, continuing with Renaissance and early modern philosophical utopias, culminating in the contractarian social contract TE, and going all the way to the work of Rawls and his present day continuators. We hope that this can contribute to a more positive picture of Rousseau’s work, despite criticism concerning his brusque manner of thought-experimenting. (shrink)
We consider an experiment that conducts observations on an uncertain parameter. Experiments observing a parameter with a stochastic uncertainty have been studied exhaustively and their characteristics have been described by many authors [see, e.g., De Groot, M. (1974), Optimal Statistical Decisions (Russian translation)]. In this article, we assume that uncertainty is generated by a mechanism which is “random in the broad sense” [a term introduced by Kolmogorov, A.N. (1986), in Probability Theory and Mathematical Statistics (in Russia), pp. 467–471]. Ivanenko, (...) V.I. and Labkovskii, V.A. [(1986), Dokladi Na Bolgarskata Akademiya Na Naukite SSSR 287(3), 564–567; (1990), Dokladi Na Bolgarskata Akademiya Na Naukite SSSR 310(5), 1059–1062] have proposed the apparatus of “statistical regularities” for the description of such randomness. Statistical regularity (SR) is a family of finitely additive probability distributions such that particular SRs correspond to total uncertainty, stochastic uncertainty, and other forms of uncertainty. The problem in which uncertainty is specified by SR is accordingly called General Decision Problem (GDP). We investigate informativeness and optimality of experiments in GDP. (shrink)
A modified version of Young’s experiment by Shahriar Afshar indirectly reveals the presence of a fully articulated interference pattern prior to the post-selection of a particle in a “which-slit” basis. While this experiment does not constitute a violation of Bohr’s Complementarity Principle as claimed by Afshar, both he and many of his critics incorrectly assume that a commonly used relationship between visibility parameter V and “which-way” parameter K has crucial relevance to his experiment. It is argued here (...) that this relationship does not apply to this experimental situation and that it is wrong to make any use of it in support of claims for or against the bearing of this experiment on Complementarity. (shrink)
Practical realism is focused on the problem of how science really works. In the case of physics and chemistry, experiment is the centrepiece of scientific practice. The rapid development of contemporary natural science does not leave the experiment unaffected. The classical experiment is normally applied only to systems that can be considered structurally stable, repeatability being the key feature. After the introduction of the theoretical basis of irreversibility by Ilya Prigogine the essence of the experiment changed. (...) The strict requirement of repeatability has to be dropped. It will be discussed, whether the change is big enough for calling it revolutionary. There are means to update the understanding of the experiment by applying the experimental settings. The material experiment will probably be with us forever but its position on the scientific landscape will be shifted. (shrink)
A goal of most interpretations of quantum mechanics is to avoid the apparent intrusion of the observer into the measurement process. Such intrusion is usually seen to arise because observation somehow selects a single actuality from among the many possibilities represented by the wavefunction. The issue is typically treated in terms of the mathematical formulation of the quantum theory. We attempt to address a different manifestation of the quantum measurement problem in a theory-neutral manner. With a version of the two-slit (...)experiment, we demonstrate that an enigma arises directly from the results of experiments. Assuming that no observable physical phenomena exist beyond those predicted by the theory, we argue that no interpretation of the quantum theory can avoid a measurement problem involving the observer. (shrink)
The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (TSE) has shaped African Americans’ views of the American health care system, contributing to a reluctance to participate in biomedical research and a suspicion of the medical system. This essay examines public discourses surrounding President Clinton’s attempt to restore African Americans’ trust by apologizing for the TSE. Through a narrative reading, we illustrate the failure of this text as an attempt to reconcile the United States Public Health Service and the African American public. We conclude (...) by noting the limitations of rhetoric when equal prominence is not given to policy proposals in national apologies. (shrink)
A wide literature in the sociology of agriculture has depicted the development of agricultural experiment stations at land grant colleges as part of a development project to improve agricultural productivity in particular commodities. Some experiment stations developed regional agricultural centers or stations to improve productivity and address local concerns, recognizing the importance of context in rural development. Through analysis of one such station, the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Southern Illinois, this paper describes how regional agricultural stations played (...) a key role in the often conflicting agricultural programs of and following the New Deal. Changes in university structure from the 1970s to present and the current national recession have led to financial crises that have put these stations in a precarious position. Still, we argue that these institutions ought to be recognized as regional resources for a new era of agricultural development, and we suggest approaching that new era by building on the existing literature of community–university partnerships. (shrink)
For quantum systems, whose energy ratios En/E0 are integers, and |E0| is the smallest energy, the time dependent wavefunctions and expectation values of time independent operators have time periodicitiy with a time period T equal to T = h/|E0|, where h is the Planck constant. This periodicity is imposed on the wavefunctions due to undersampling in energy, but following a similarity with aliasing in signal analysis, it may allow to probe future and past events under the condition that our world (...) is in reality a true four-dimensional, “static” space–time. We suggest an experiment to test that possibility. A positive result will indicate that we live in a four-dimensional space–time. A negative result (not getting signals from the future) will indicate that four-dimensional space–time is not physical one and that we live in a three-dimensional space with a time. (shrink)
It was pointed out in the first part of this study (Herbut in Found. Phys. 38:1046–1064, 2008) that EPR-type entanglement is defined by the possibility of performing any of two mutually incompatible distant, i.e., direct-interaction-free, measurements. They go together under the term ‘EPR-type disentanglement’. In this second part, quantum-mechanical insight is gained in the real random delayed-choice erasure experiment of Kim et al. (Phys. Rev. Lett. 84:1–5, 2000) by a relative-reality-of-unitarily-evolving-state (RRUES) approach (explained in the first part). Finally, it (...) is shown that this remarkable experiment, which performs, by random choice, two incompatible measurements at the same time, is actually an EPR-type disentanglement experiment, closely related to the micromaser experiment discussed in the first part. (shrink)
Recently, there has been increasing theoretical and experimental interest in Popper's gedanken experiment. We calculate in this paper, using the path integral approach, the diffraction patterns predicted by quantum mechanics for this arrangement. The calculations confirm the narrowing of the width of the pattern in absence of the slit obtained experimentally by Kim and Shih (Y. Kim and Y. Shih, Found. Phys. 29, 1849 (1999)).
Can some films be genuine thought experiments that challenge our commonsense intuitions? Certain filmic narratives and their mise-en-scène details reveal rigorous reasoning and counterintuitive outcomes on philosophical issues, such as skepticism or personal identity. But this philosophical façade may hide a mundane concern for entertainment. Unfamiliar narratives drive spectator entertainment, and every novel cinematic situation could be easily explained as part of a process that lacks motives of philosophical elucidation. -/- The paper inverses the above objection, and proposes that when (...) the main cinematic character resists spectator engagement (a crucial source of cinematic entertainment), emotionally challenged spectators also question their commonsensical beliefs about his/her actions, and detect a conceptually novel situation as such. -/- A case study is Mike Leigh’s film Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), in which the main female character presents an unrelenting but eccentric version of 'feel good' happiness. Spectators gradually detect that the previously unexamined, commonsensical version of subjective happiness comes at the price of individual eccentricity, and that the choice of a subjective theory of happiness leads to consequences hitherto unacknowledged. (shrink)
In her presentation at the Monte Verità workshop, Maja Mataric showed us a videotape of her robots cruising together through the lab, and remarked, aptly: "They're flocking, but that's not what they think they're doing." This is a vivid instance of a phenomenon that lies at the heart of all the research I learned about at Monte Verità: the execution of surprisingly successful "cognitive" behaviors by systems that did not explicitly represent, and did not need to explicitly represent, what they (...) were doing. How "high" in the intuitive scale of cognitive sophistication can such unwitting prowess reach? All the way, apparently, since I want to echo Maja's observation with one of my own: "These roboticists are doing philosophy, but that's not what they think they're doing." It is possible, then, even to do philosophy--that most intellectual of activities--without realizing that that is what you are doing. It is even possible to do it well, for this is a good, new way of addressing antique philosophical puzzles. (shrink)
It is shown here that Suarez (Found. Phys. 38:583, 2008) wrongly presents the assumptions behind the Leggett’s inequalities, and their modified form used by Groeblacher et al. (Nature 446:871, 2007) for an experimental falsification of a certain class of non-local hidden variable models.
In the television show Deal or No Deal a contestant is endowed with a sealed box, which potentially contains a large monetary prize. In the course of the show the contestant learns more information about the distribution of possible monetary prizes inside her box. Consider two groups of contestants, who learned that the chances of their boxes containing a large prize are 20% and 80% correspondingly. Contestants in both groups receive qualitatively similar price offers for selling the content of their (...) boxes. If contestants are less risk averse when facing unlikely gains, the price offer is likely to be more frequently rejected in the first group than in the second group. However, the fraction of rejections is virtually identical across two groups. Thus, contestants appear to have identical risk attitudes over (large) gains of low and high probability. (shrink)
The double slit problem is idealized by simplifying each slit by a point source. A composite reduced action for the two correlated point sources is developed. Contours of the reduced action, trajectories and loci of transit times are developed in the region near the two point sources. The trajectory through any point in Euclidean 3-space also passes simultaneously through both point sources.
We compare two different elicitation methods for measuring risk attitudes on a sample of French farmers. We consider the lottery tasks initially proposed by Holt and Laury (Econ Rev 92:1644–1655, 2002) and by Eckel and Grossman (Evol Hum Behav 23:281–295, 2002; J Econ Behav Org 68:1–7, 2008). The main empirical result from this within-subject study is that risk preference measures are affected by the type of mechanism used. We first show that this risk preference instability can be related to non-expected (...) utility preferences of farmers. Using a risk-taking psychometric questionnaire, we then demonstrate that risk preferences of farmers are context-dependent. This may be another explanation of the observed risk preference instability. (shrink)
Recent years saw the rise of an interest in the roles and significance of thought experiments in different areas of human thinking. Heisenberg's gamma ray microscope is no doubt one of the most famous examples of a thought experiment in physics. Nevertheless, this particular thought experiment has not received much detailed attention in the philosophical literature on thought experiments up to date, maybe because of its often claimed inadequacies. In this paper, I try to do two things: to (...) provide an interesting interpretation of the roles played by Heisenberg's gamma ray microscope in interpreting quantum mechanics – partly based on Thomas Kuhn’s views on the function of thought experiments – and to contribute to the ongoing discussions on the roles and significance of thought experiments in physics. (shrink)
In Experiment, Right or Wrong, Allan Franklin continues his investigation of the history and philosophy of experiment presented in his previous book, The Neglect of Experiment. In this new study, Franklin considers the fallibility and corrigibility of experimental results and presents detailed histories of two such episodes: 1) the experiment and the development of the theory of weak interactions from Fermi's theory in 1934 to the V-A theory of 1957 and 2) atomic parity violation experiments and (...) the Weinberg-Salam unified theory of electroweak interactions of the 1970s and 1980s. In these episodes Franklin demonstrates not only that experimental results can be wrong, but also that theoretical calculations and the comparison between experiment and theory can also be incorrect. In the second episode, Franklin contrasts his view of an "evidence model" of science in which questions of theory choice, confirmation, and refutation are decided on the basis of reliable experimental evidence, with that proposed by the social constructivists. (shrink)
We describe the results of an experiment on decision making in an insurance context. The experiment was designed to test for the underlying rationality of insurance consumers, where rationality is understood in usual economic terms. In particular, using expected utility as the preference function, we test for positive marginal utility, risk aversion, and decreasing absolute risk aversion, all of which are normal postulates for any microeconomic decision context under uncertainty or risk. We find that there the discrepancy from (...) rational decision making increases with the sophistication of the rationality criteria, that irrationality concerning fair premium contracts is uncharacteristically high, and that the slope of absolute risk aversion seems to depend on the format of the insurance contract. (shrink)
The playback experiment -- the playing back of recorded animal sounds to the animals in order to observe their responses -- has twice become central to celebrated researches on non-human primates. First, in the years around 1890, Richard Garner, an amateur scientist and evolutionary enthusiast, used the new wax cylinder phonograph to record and reproduce monkey utterances with the aim of translating them. Second, in the years around 1980, the ethologists Peter Marler, Robert Seyfarth, and Dorothy Cheney used (...) tape recorders in a broadly similar way to test whether the different predator calls of one monkey species, vervet monkeys, warn about different kinds of predator. This paper explores the circumstances leading to the ca. 1890 invention and the ca. 1980 reinvention of the primate playback experiment. In both instances, I show, the experiment served as a riposte to those arguing, on scientific grounds, that an unbridgeable gap divides human language from animal communication. I also consider how far progress in technology explains the timing of invention and reinvention. I conclude with some reflections on sifting contingent from inevitable aspects of the history of the primate playback experiment, and of scientific achievements more generally. (shrink)
Sometimes conducting an experiment to ascertain the state of a system changes the state of the system being measured. Kahneman & Tversky modelled this effect with âsupport theoryâ. Quantum physics models this effect with probability amplitude mechanics. As this paper shows, probability amplitude mechanics is similar to support theory. Additionally, Viscusi's proposed generalized expected utility model has an analogy in quantum mechanics.
The postwar investments by several governments into the development of atomic energy for military and peaceful uses fuelled the fears not only of the exposure to acute doses of radiation as could be expected from nuclear accidents or atomic warfare but also of the long-term effects of low-dose exposure to radiation. Following similar studies pursued under the aegis of the Manhattan Project in the United States, the “genetics experiment” discussed by scientists and government officials in Britain soon after the (...) war, consisted in large-scale low-dose irradiation experiments of laboratory animals to assess the effects of such exposures on humans. The essay deals with the history of that project and its impact on postwar genetics. It argues that radiobiological concerns driven by atomic politics lay at the heart of much genetics research after the war and that the atomic links are crucial to understand how genetics became an overriding concern in the late 20th century. (shrink)
Husserl holds the view that givenness through adumbrations (i.e. perspectival givenness) is an essential characteristic of the givenness of spatiotemporal things. He goes so far to say that we are dealing with an essential law. In this article I try to make sense of this claim. I am also dealing with a thought experiment that is designed to show that the givenness through adumbrations is just a consequence of our physiological make-up, a view that Husserl explicitly rejects. Amongst other (...) things, I defend Husserl by introducing the crucial distinction between first-person-imagination and third-person-imagination. (shrink)
Goffi and Roux are interested in what makes some thought experiments work, while others do not work. They do not attempt to draw an a priori line between two types of thought experiments, but rather ask the following question: inasmuch as thought experiments are arguments, and notwithstanding the fact that some of them might involve the contemplation of an imaginary scenario, how is it that some of them work, while others do not? Taking inspiration from a counterfactual thought experiment (...) presented by Nicholas Rescher, they treat thought experiments as argumentative procedures resembling tests of consistency, which invite the experimenter to seek the weakest link in her body of beliefs. Equipped with this method, they examine two well-known successful thought experiments (Galileo’s two bodies strapped together, and Thomson’s violinist) and discuss Mach’s notion of thought experiments. Thus they reach the hypothesis that successful thought experiments respect the three following conditions: they do not deal with things, but with beliefs; they mobilise a set of beliefs shared by the interlocutors; and this set of beliefs has a hierarchical structure. Using once again examples written at different periods and taken from various disciplines (Descartes’ receding bodies, Aristotle’s weaving shuttles), Goffi and Roux argue that each of those conditions is individually necessary for a thought experiment to work. They finally conclude on the limits and consequences of their approach. (shrink)
What sorts of things are the intuitions generated via thought experiment? Timothy Williamson has responded to naturalistic skeptics by arguing that thought-experiment intuitions are judgments of ordinary counterfactuals. On this view, the intuition is naturalistically innocuous, but it has a contingent content and could be known at best a posteriori. We suggest an alternative to Williamson's account, according to which we apprehend thought-experiment intuitions through our grasp on truth in fiction. On our view, intuitions like the Gettier (...) intuition are necessarily true and knowable a priori. Our view, like Williamson's, avoids naturalistic skepticism. (shrink)
I begin with an explication of "thought experiment". I then clarify the role that intuitions play in thought experiments by addressing two important issues: (1) the informativeness of thought experiments and (2) the legitimacy of the method of thought experiments in philosophy and the natural sciences. I defend a naturalistic account of intuitions that provides a plausible explanation of the informativeness of thought experiments, which, in turn, allows thought experiments to be reconstructed as arguments. I also specify criteria for (...) distinguishing bad "intuition pumps" from legitimate thought experiments. These criteria help us to avoid being seduced by the dangerous suggestive power of misleading intuitions. (shrink)