Rethinking thought experiments

Perspectives on Science 9 (3):285-307 (2001)
Abstract
: An examination of two thought experiments in contemporary physics reveals that the same thought experiment can be reanalyzed from the perspective of different and incompatible theories. This fact undermines those accounts of thought experiments that claim their justificatory power comes from their ability to reveal the laws of nature. While thought experiments do play a genuine evaluative role in science, they do so by testing the nonempirical virtues of a theory, such as consistency and explanatory power. I conclude that, while their interpretation presupposes a whole set of background theories and putative laws, thought experiments nonetheless can evolve and be retooled for different theories and ends
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DOI 10.1162/10636140160176152
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References found in this work BETA
Thought Experiments and the Epistemology of Laws.Roy A. Sorensen - 1992 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):15-44.
Why Did Einstein's Programme Supersede Lorentz's? (I).Elie Zahar - 1973 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 24 (2):95-123.
Galileo and the Indispensability of Scientific Thought Experiment.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 1998 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (3):397-424.
Are Thought Experiments Just What You Thought?John Norton - 1996 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):333 - 366.

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Citations of this work BETA
Fiction as Thought Experiment.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2014 - Perspectives on Science 22 (2):221-241.
Experiments in Thought.Walter Hopp - 2014 - Perspectives on Science 22 (2):242-263.

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The Logic of Thought Experiments.Martin Bunzl - 1996 - Synthese 106 (2):227 - 240.
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The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature.Helen Beebee - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):571-594.
Empirical Thought Experiments: A Trascendental-Operational View.Buzzoni Marco - 2010 - Epistemologia. An Italian Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33:05-26.

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