The False Promise of Thought Experimentation in Moral and Political Philosophy

In Borstner Bojan & Gartner Smiljana (ed.), Thought Experiments between Nature and Society. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 328-348 (2017)
Prof. Miščević has long been an ardent defender of the use of thought experiments in philosophy, foremost metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of mind. Recently he has, in his typically sophisticated manner, extended his general account of philosophical thought-experimenting to the domain of normative politics. Not only can the history of political philosophy be better understood and appreciated, according to Miščević, when seen as a more or less continuous, yet covert, practice of thought-experimenting, the very progress of the discipline may crucially depend on finding the right balance between the constraints of (biological, psychological, economic, political, and so on) reality and political-moral ideals when we set to design our basic political notions and institutions. I have much less confidence in this project than prof. Miščević does. As a subspecies of moral TE, political TE share all their problems plus exhibit some of their own. In the paper, I present and discuss two types of evidence that threaten to undermine political philosophers’ trust in thought-experiments and the ethical/political intuitions elicited by them: (i) the dismal past record of thought-experimentation in moral and political philosophy; and (ii) the variety, prevalence, and stubbornness, of bias in ordinary social/political judgment.
Keywords thought experiments  moral and political intuitions  Nenad Miščević  Joel Feinberg  social biases
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
A Hierarchy of Armchairs: Gerald Gaus on Political Thought Experiments.Nenad Miscevic - 2013 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 9 (1):52-63.
Plato's Republic as a Political Thought Experiment.Nenad Miščević - 2012 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (2):153-165.
National Identities in Transition.Nenad Miscevic - 2001 - Studies in East European Thought 53 (3):197-219.
Introduction: Nationalism and Alternatives.Nenad Miščević - 2002 - Studies in East European Thought 54 (4):241-244.
Is Political Philosophy Too Ahistorical?Jonathan Floyd - 2009 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 12 (4):513-533.
Moral and Political Prudence in Kant.Eric S. Nelson - 2004 - International Philosophical Quarterly 44 (3):305-319.
Why Study the History of Political Thought?D. Howard - 2011 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (5):519-531.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
28 ( #187,955 of 2,193,270 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
28 ( #5,887 of 2,193,270 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature