The advantages of theft over honest toil. A comment on David Atkinson
In M. C. Galavotti (ed.), Observation and Experiment in the Natural and Social Sciences (2003)
David Atkinson asks whether nonempirical constructions can lead to genuine knowledge in science, and answers in the negative. Thought experiments, in his view, are to be commended only insofar as they eventually lead to real experiments. The claim does not rely on a general study, conceptual or historical, of thought experiments as such: the range of the paper is at once narrower and broader. Atkinson views thought experiments as commonly understood as just one kind of episode in the development of physics in which real experimentation is bypassed, and he believes that such episodes are justified only inasmuch as they are transitory stages on the way to genuine empirical inquiry. Atkinson wants to kill with one arrow what is usually regarded as two different birds: the notion that thought experiments proper can be persuasive in themselves, and the thesis that theories which cannot be brought to the tribunal of experience can nevertheless belong to science. He thus implicitly opposes three views which are commonly, albeit not universally, held: (i) some thought experiments are conclusive; (ii) some theories belong to science despite not being evidently and concretely amenable to empirical corroboration; (iii) the two issues are largely independent. The standpoint from which Atkinson operates is a rather strict form of empiricism, one which relies on a fairly sharp distinction between the conceptual and empirical dimensions of inquiry. My outlook is rather different: the conceptual and empirical seem to me to be intertwined, both conceptually, as suggested by Quine’s critique of logical positivism, and empirically, as revealed by the evidence provided by science itself in its daily and historical reality. Rather than take the high road, I propose to focus first on the critique to which Atkinson subjects Galileo’s thought experiment, and the lessons he draws from his analysis..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Knowing What Would Happen: The Epistemic Strategies in Galileo's Thought Experiments.Kristian Camilleri - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 54:102-112.
Similar books and articles
Poor Thought Experiments? A Comment on Peijnenburg and Atkinson.Daniel Cohnitz - 2006 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (2):373 - 392.
When Are Thought Experiments Poor Ones?Jeanne Peijnenburg & David Atkinson - 2003 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 34 (2):305-322.
Experiments and Thought Experiments in Natural Science.David Atkinson - 2003 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 232:209-226.
On Poor and Not so Poor Thought Experiments. A Reply to Daniel Cohnitz.Jeanne Peijnenburg & David Atkinson - 2007 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 38 (1):159 - 161.
The Body, Thought Experiments, and Phenomenology.Yiftach J. H. Fehige & Harald Wiltsche - 2012 - In Thought Experiments in Philosophy, Science, and the Arts.
Empirical Thought Experiments: A Trascendental-Operational View.Buzzoni Marco - 2010 - Epistemologia. An Italian Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33:05-26.
Thought Experiments in Methodological and Historical Contexts.Katerina Ierodiakonou & Sophie Roux (eds.) - 2011 - Brill.
Added to index2011-04-11
Total downloads19 ( #258,540 of 2,168,962 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #186,783 of 2,168,962 )
How can I increase my downloads?