Thought experiments are a means of imaginative reasoning that lie at the heart of philosophy, from the pre-Socratics to the modern era, and they also play central roles in a range of fields, from physics to politics. The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments is an invaluable guide and reference source to this multifaceted subject. Comprising over 30 chapters by a team of international contributors, the Companion covers the following important areas: -/- · the history of thought experiments, from antiquity to (...) the trolley problem and quantum non-locality; -/- · thought experiments in the humanities, arts, and sciences, including ethics, physics, theology, biology, mathematics, economics, and politics; -/- · theories about the nature of thought experiments; -/- · new discussions concerning the impact of experimental philosophy, cross-cultural comparison studies, metaphilosophy, computer simulations, idealization, dialectics, cognitive science, the artistic nature of thought experiments, and metaphysical issues. -/- This broad ranging Companion goes backwards through history and sideways across disciplines. It also engages with philosophical perspectives from empiricism, rationalism, naturalism, skepticism, pluralism, contextualism, and neo-Kantianism to phenomenology. This volume will be valuable for anyone studying the methods of philosophy or any discipline that employs thought experiments, as well as anyone interested in the power and limits of the mind. (shrink)
This paper reports the introduction of electronic handsets, like those used on the television show 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' into the teaching of philosophical logic. Logic lectures can provide quite a formidable challenge for many students, occasionally to the point of making them ill. Our rationale for introducing handsets was threefold: to get the students thinking and talking about the subject in a public environment; to make them feel secure enough to answer questions in the lectures because the (...) system enabled them to do this anonymously; and to build their confidence about their learning by their being able to see how they were progressing in relation to the rest of the students in the class. We have achieved all of these and more. Our experience has revealed that the use of handsets encourages a more dynamic form of student interaction in an environment - the lecture - that can, in the wrong hands, be utterly enervating, but they also provide an opportunity for the lecturer to respond to students' difficulties at the time when they really matter. In this paper, we discuss our case of rapid adoption, our grounds for judging it a success, and what that success seems to have depended on. (shrink)
As my title implies, I think the verifiability criterion is indeed a criterion of something. I do not intend, therefore, merely to commemorate it. On the other hand I am not sure that those who put it forward in its more liberal forms as a criterion of ‘factual significance’ or ‘literal meaningfulness’ were right in what they identified as the consequence of a sentence's failing to satisfy it. What I want to argue for, in a somewhat reductionist spirit, is a (...) resurrected version of the ‘weak’ verifiability criterion. My resurrected version will certainly appear more rarefied, in so far as it is independent of empiricism. It will, I hope, also be purified of some of the mortal blemishes from which the criterion, as construed by members of the Vienna Circle, seems not to have recovered. (shrink)
Originally published in 1991, The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences, is the first monograph to identify and address some of the many interesting questions that pertain to thought experiments. While the putative aim of the book is to explore the nature of thought experimental evidence, it has another important purpose which concerns the crucial role thought experiments play in Brown’s Platonic master argument.In that argument, Brown argues against naturalism and empiricism (Brown 2012), (...) for mathematical Platonism (Brown 2008), and from the Platonist-friendly, abstract universals posited by the Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong (DTA) account of the laws of nature to a more general, physical Platonism. The Laboratory of the Mind is where he takes this final step. (shrink)
My title advertizes a paradox. The characteristic complaint of the sceptic is that others make assumptions they are not entitled to make. A philosophical sceptic is committed to a systematic refusal to accept such assumptions in the absence of the kind of justification they think is required. A sceptic who, none the less, helps himself to such an assumption, seems to be caught in a paradoxical position. This is the kind of situation in which, it seems, certain eighteenth-century sceptical philosophers (...) were placed in relation to the ‘principle’ of natural order. They did not doubt that there is such a principle, that there is a source or ultimate cause of the order to be found in the universe. And yet, on their own terms, is not the existence of such a principle something we should expect them to have doubted? What I shall try to do in this lecture is to bring out why they did not doubt the existence of such a principle and how serious their failure to do so is for their sceptical position. (shrink)
With the entry-level student in mind, StuartBrown guides the reader through three main topics: whether or not there is life after death; whether or not there is a powerful, beneficent intelligence controlling the universe; and the nature and appropriate defence of religious belief or faith. Each chapter is linked to readings by commentators on religion and belief, such as David Hume, John Hick, Richard Dawkins and William James. Key features also include activities and exercises, chapter summaries and (...) guides to further reading. (shrink)
From the end of the Enlightenment to the middle of the twentieth century philosophy took fascinating and controversial paths whose relevance to contemporary post-modernist thought is becoming increasingly clear. This volume traces the English-language side of the period, while also taking into account those continental thinkers who deeply influenced twentieth-century English-language philosophy. The story begins with Reid, Coleridge, and Bentham - who set the agenda for much that followed - and continues with a portrait of the nineteenth century's greatest British (...) philosopher, John Stuart Mill. It then surveys the cross-currents of thought at the end of the century, including American pragmatism, a movement never more influential than now. Finally, it assesses two phases of what John Skorupski calls `analytic modernism' - the revolution against the idealism of Moore and Russell, and the Viennese sequel whose project was to show that philosophy consists of pseudo-problems. (shrink)
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was one of the first Modern philosophers, and as such, one of the most significant. His contributions were often pathbreaking and his imprint still remains on fields such as logic, mathematics, science, international law, and ethics. While publishing relatively little during his life, he was in regular correspondence with important philosophers and even political leaders.