Intuition pumps and the proper use of thought experiments

Dialectica 58 (1):89–108 (2004)
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Abstract

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.

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Elke Brendel
Universität Bonn

Citations of this work

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Hunting the Pseudo-Philosopher.Roderick T. Long - 2021 - Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 21 (2):247-288.

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References found in this work

The Meaning of 'Meaning'.Hillary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1689 - London, England: Oxford University Press.
In Contradiction: A Study of the Transconsistent.Graham Priest - 1987 - Dordrecht, Netherland: Oxford University Press.
Utilitarianism: For and Against.J. J. C. Smart & Bernard Williams - 1973 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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