How Thought Experiments Increase Understanding

In Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige & James Robert Brown (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments. London: Routledge. pp. 526-544 (2018)
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Abstract

We might think that thought experiments are at their most powerful or most interesting when they produce new knowledge. This would be a mistake; thought experiments that seek understanding are just as powerful and interesting, and perhaps even more so. A growing number of epistemologists are emphasizing the importance of understanding for epistemology, arguing that it should supplant knowledge as the central notion. In this chapter, I bring the literature on understanding in epistemology to bear on explicating the different ways that thought experiments increase three important kinds of understanding: explanatory, objectual and practical.

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Michael T. Stuart
University of York

Citations of this work

Understanding Philosophy.Michael Hannon & James Nguyen - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Thought Experiments.Yiftach J. H. Fehige & James R. Brown - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 25 (1):135-142.

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