Bringing Thought Experiments Back into the Philosophy of Science

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Abstract

To a large extent, the evidential base of claims in the philosophy of science has switched from thought experiments to case studies. We argue that abandoning thought experiments was a wrong turn, since they can effectively complement case studies. We make our argument via an analogy with the relationship between experiments and observations within science. Just as experiments and ‘natural’ observations can together evidence claims in science, each mitigating the downsides of the other, so too can thought experiments and case studies be mutually supporting. After presenting the main argument, we look at potential concerns about thought experiments, suggesting that a judiciously applied mixed-methods approach can overcome them.

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Author Profiles

Arnon Levy
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Adrian Currie
Cambridge University

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References found in this work

The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Philosophy Within its Proper Bounds.Edouard Machery - 2017 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2009 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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