Thought Experiments as Tools of Theory ClarifcationGrace Helton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

It is widely presumed that intuitions about thought experiments can help overturn philosophical theories. It isalso widely presumed, albeit implicitly, that if thought experiments play any epistemic role in overturning philosophical theories, it is via intuition. In this chapter, I argue for a different, neglected epistemic role of philosophical thought experiments, that of improving some reasoners appreciation both of what a theorys predictions consist of and of how those predictions tie to elements of the theory. I call this role theory clarification. I show that theory clarification does not proceed via intuition, and I argue that it is only in conjunction with theory clarification that intuitions about thought experiments can help overturn philosophical theories. I close by sketching how a more radical view might be true, on which thought experiments help justify the rejection of philosophical theories exclusively by clarifying theories, not by any intuitions those thought experiments might generate.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationSeemings
Subtitle of host publicationNew Arguments, New Angles
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages252-270
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781003830597
ISBN (Print)9781032289601
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities

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