Galileo and the indispensability of scientific thought experiment

Authors
Tamar Gendler
Yale University
Abstract
By carefully examining one of the most famous thought experiments in the history of science—that by which Galileo is said to have refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones—I attempt to show that thought experiments play a distinctive role in scientific inquiry. Reasoning about particular entities within the context of an imaginary scenario can lead to rationally justified concluusions that—given the same initial information—would not be rationally justifiable on the basis of a straightforward argument.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/49.3.397
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The Role of Explanation in Understanding.K. Khalifa - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):161-187.
The Instrumental Value of Explanations.Tania Lombrozo - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (8):539-551.
How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge?Claus Beisbart - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.
Galileo and Prior Philosophy.David Atkinson - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (1):115-136.
On Thought Experiments as a Priori Science.Richard Arthur - 1999 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (3):215 – 229.

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