How to Reconstruct a Thought Experiment

Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (2):154-188 (2011)
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Abstract

The paper is a contribution to the debate on the epistemological status of thought experiments. I deal with the epistemological uniqueness of experiments in the sense of their irreducibility to other sources of justification. In particular, I criticize an influential argument for the irreducibility of thought experiments to general arguments. First, I introduce the radical empiricist theory of eliminativism, which considers thought experiments to be rhetorically modified arguments, uninteresting from the epistemological point of view. Second, I present objections to the theory, focusing on the critique of eliminativism by Tamar Szabó Gendler based on the reconstruction of famous Galileo's Pisa experiment. I show that her reconstruction is simplistic and that more elaborate reconstruction is needed for an appropriate assessment of the epistemic power of general argument. I propose such a reconstruction and demonstrate that general version of Pisa experiment is epistemically equal to the particular one. Thus, from an epistemological perspective, Galileo's thought experiment is reducible to a straightforward argument without particular premises.

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Marek Picha
Masaryk University

Citations of this work

Thought Experiments: State of the Art.Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige & James R. Brown - 2018 - In Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige & James Robert Brown (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 1-28.
A Minimalist Framework for Thought Experiment Analysis.Marek Picha - 2016 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 23 (4):503-524.
Místo myšlenkových experimentů ve filozofii.Filip Tvrdý - 2018 - Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 40 (2):211-229.

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References found in this work

The Uses of Argument.Stephen E. Toulmin - 1958 - Cambridge University Press.
Argumentation Schemes.Douglas Walton, Chris Reed & Fabrizio Macagno - 2008 - Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Argumentation Schemes.Douglas Walton, Christopher Reed & Fabrizio Macagno - 2008 - Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
The Uses of Argument.Stephen E. Toulmin - 1958 - Philosophy 34 (130):244-245.
Thought Experiments.Roy A. Sorensen - 1992 - Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

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