Full text
Gendler, Tamar Szabó. Galileo and the Indispensability of Scientific Thought Experiment
1998, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (3):397-424.
Expand entry
Added by: Andrea Blomqvist

Abstract: By carefully examining one of the most famous thought experiments in the history of science – that by which Galileo is said to have refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones – I attempt to show that thought experiments play a distinctive role in scientific inquiry. Reasoning about particular entities within the context of an imaginary scenario can lead to rationally justified concluusions that – given the same initial information – would not be rationally justifiable on the basis of a straightforward argument.

Comment: This paper would be a good to put as further reading in a week focusing on thought experiments. Suitable for a third year module.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text Read free
Gendler, Tamar Szabó. Thought experiments rethought – and reperceived
2004, Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1152-1163.
Expand entry
Added by: Andrea Blomqvist

Abstract: Contemplating imaginary scenarios that evoke certain sorts of quasi?sensory intuitions may bring us to new beliefs about contingent features of the natural world. These beliefs may be produced quasi?observationally; the presence of a mental image may play a crucial cognitive role in the formation of the belief in question. And this albeit fallible quasi?observational belief?forming mechanism may, in certain contexts, be sufficiently reliable to count as a source of justification. This sheds light on the central puzzle surrounding scientific thought experiment, which is how contemplation of an imaginary scenario can lead to new knowledge about contingent features of the natural world.

Comment: This is a good introductory reading to the philosophy of thought experiements. It would work well as a required reading on the topic.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Full text
Spaulding, Shannon. Imagination Through Knowledge
2016, In Amy Kind & Peter Kung (eds.), Knowledge Through Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 207-226 (2016)
Expand entry
Added by: Andrea Blomqvist

Abstract: Imagination seems to play an epistemic role in philosophical and scientific thought experiments, mindreading, and ordinary practical deliberations insofar as it generates new knowledge of contingent facts about the world. However, it also seems that imagination is limited to creative generation of ideas. Sometimes we imagine fanciful ideas that depart freely from reality. The conjunction of these claims is what I call the puzzle of knowledge through imagination. This chapter aims to resolve this puzzle. I argue that imagination has an epistemic role to play, but it is limited to the context of discovery. Imagination generates ideas, but other cognitive capacities must be employed to evaluate these ideas in order for them to count as knowledge. Consideration of the Simulation Theory’s so-called ‘threat of collapse’ provides further evidence that imagination does not, on its own, yield new knowledge of contingent facts, and it suggests a way to supplement imagination in order to get such knowledge.

Comment: This is a relatively difficult paper, but it deals with the interesting topic of whether we can get knowledge through imagination. It would be suitable to suggest as a further reading for senior year undergraduate students.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share by Email More options
Can’t find it?
Contribute the texts you think should be here and we’ll add them soon!