Philosophical Thought Experiments as Excercises in Conceptual Analysis

Grazer Philosophische Studien 81 (1):189-214 (2010)
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In this paper, I defend the viability and importance of conceptual analysis to philosophical inquiry. My argument proceeds in two steps. In a first step, I argue that we rely on the notions guiding how we do and would apply our terms in order to evaluate the counterfactual conditionals we find at the heart of philosophical thought experiments. In a second step, I argue that our notions determine what the relevant terms mean in our mouth. In order to defend the resulting neo-descriptivist semantics, I put forth an epistemic argument for descriptivism—the argument from communication. I conclude that philosophical thought experiments are exercises in conceptual analysis



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Christian Nimtz
Bielefeld University

Citations of this work

Evidence and intuition.Yuri Cath - 2012 - Episteme 9 (4):311-328.
Kant on the epistemic role of the imagination.Tobias Rosefeldt - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 13):3171-3192.

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References found in this work

Knowing One’s Own Mind.Donald Davidson - 1987 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.
A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals.Jonathan Bennett - 2003 - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 10 (4):565-570.
Knowing One's Own Mind.Donald Davidson - 2003 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
On thought experiments: Is there more to the argument?John D. Norton - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1139-1151.
The Analysis of Knowing.Robert K. Shope - 1984 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 89 (1):131-132.

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