Synthese 192 (9):2827-2842 (2015)

Sara Kier Praëm
University of Aarhus
The growing literature on philosophical thought experiments has so far focused almost exclusively on the role of thought experiments in confirming or refuting philosophical hypotheses or theories. In this paper we draw attention to an additional and largely ignored role that thought experiments frequently play in our philosophical practice: some thought experiments do not merely serve as means for testing various philosophical hypotheses or theories, but also serve as facilitators for conceiving and articulating new ones. As we will put it, they serve as ‘heuristics for theory discovery’. Our purpose in the paper is two-fold: to make a case that this additional role of thought experiments deserves the attention of philosophers interested in the methodology of philosophy; to sketch a tentative taxonomy of a number of distinct ways in which philosophical thought experiments can aid theory discovery, which can guide future research on this role of thought experiments
Keywords Thought experiments  Philosophical methodology
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0684-6
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Thought Experiments.Yiftach J. H. Fehige & James R. Brown - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 25 (1):135-142.

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