What Are We to Think about Thought Experiments?
- Lawrence Souder
- … show all 1 hide
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
Arguments from thought experiment ask the reader to imagine some hypothetical, sometimes exotic, often fantastic, scenario for the sake of illustrating or countering some claim. Variously characterized as mental experimentation, imaginary cases, and even crazy cases, thought experiments figure into both scientific and philosophical arguments. They are often criticized for their fictive nature and for their lack of grounding. Nevertheless, they are common especially in arguments in ethics and philosophy of mind. Moreover, many thought experiments have spawned variations that attempt to both affirm and refute their original arguments. These emended thought experiments exhibit a variety of styles, details, and embellishments. A rhetorical analysis of these variations suggests a reciprocal influence between the arguers' selection of details and their philosophical commitments. I offer examples of this relationship from the variations on John Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment and Judith Thomson's unconscious violinist thought experiment.
- Aristotle: 1984, Rhetoric (W. Rhys Roberts, Trans.), The Modern Library, New York.
- Barry, Brian: 1979, ‘On Editing Ethics’, Ethics vn90 (1), 1-6.
- Beckwith, F. J.: 1992, ‘Personal Bodily Rights, Abortion, and Unplugging the Violinist’, International Philosophical Quarterly 32(1), 105-118.
- Brooks, D. H. M.: 1994, ‘The Method of Thought Experiment’, Metaphilosophy 25(1), 71-83.
- Brown, J. R.: 1992, ‘Why Empiricism Won't Work’, PSA 1992 2, 271-279.
- Brown, J. R.: 1991, The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences, Routledge, London.
- Bruner, J.: 1991, ‘The Narrative Construction of Reality’, Critical Inquiry 18(1), 1-21.
- Chandra, S.: 1977, Identity and Thought Experiments, Institute of Advanced Study, Simla.
- Davis, M.: 1983, ‘Foetuses, Famous Violinists, and the Right to Continued Aid’, Philosophical Quarterly 33(132), 259-278.
- Dennett, D. C.: 1995, ‘In Defense of AI’, in Peter Baumgartner (ed.), Speaking Minds: Interviews with Twenty Eminent Cognitive Scientists, Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp. 57-69.
- Dennett, D. C.: 1991, Consciousness Explained, Little Brown, Boston.
- Dennett, D. C.: 1987, The Intentional Stance, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
- Dennett, D. C.: 1980, ‘The Milk of Human Intentionality’, The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 428-430.
- Finnis, J.: 1973, ‘The Rights and Wrongs of Abortion: A Reply to Thomson’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 2(2), 135-145.
- Goodin, R. E.: 1982, Political Theory and Public Policy, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
- Gooding, D. C.: 1992, ‘What is Experimental about Thought Experiments?’, PSA 1992 2, 280-290.
- Hacking, I.: 1992, ‘Do Thought Experiments Have a Life of Their Own? PSA 1992 2, 302-308.
- Hare, R. M.: 1981, Moral Thinking, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
- Hofstadter, D. R. and D. C. Dennett (eds.): 1981, The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections of Self and Soul, Bantam Books, Toronto.
- Irvine, A. D.: 1991, ‘Thought Experiments in Scientific Reasoning’, in T. Horowitz and G. J. Massey (eds.), Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Savage, MD, pp. 149-165.
- Jackson, M. W.: 1992, ‘The Gedankenexperiment method of Ethics’, The Journal of Value Inquiry 26, 525-535.
- Locke, J.: 1975, ‘Of Identity and Diversity’, in J. Perry (ed.), Personal Identity, University of California Press, Berkeley, pp. 33-52.
- MacKinnon, C. A.: 1989, Toward a Feminist Theory of State, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
- Nersessian, N. J.: 1992, ‘In the Theoretician's Laboratory: Thought Experimenting as Mental Modeling’, PSA 2, 291-301.
- Norton, J.: 1991, ‘Thought Experiments in Einstein's Work’, in T. Horowitz and G.J. Massey (eds.), Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Savage, MD, pp. 129-148.
- Parfit, D.: 1984, Reasons and Persons, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
- Perelman, C. and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca: 1969, The New Rhetoric, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame.
- Searle, J. R.: 1994, The Rediscovery of Mind, MIT Press, Cambridge.
- Searle, J. R.: 1983, Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Searle, J. R.: 1980, ‘Minds, Brains, and Programs’, The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 451-455.
- Shapin, S.: 1984, ‘Pump and Circumstance: Robert Boyle's Literary Technology’, Social Studies of Science 14, 481-520.
- Sorensen, R. A.: 1992, Thought Experiments, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Steinem, G.: 1983, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Holt, Reinhart, and Winston, New York.
- Thomson, J. J.: 1971, ‘A Defense of Abortion’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 1(1), 47-66.
- Unger, P.: 1990, Identity, Consciousness, and Value, Oxford University Press, New York.
- Warren, M. A.: 1973, ‘On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion’, Monist 57(1), 43-61.
- Wennberg, R.: 1985, Life in the Balance: Exploring the Abortion Controversy, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.
- Wilkes, K. V.: 1988, Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
- Wreen, M.: 1992, ‘Abortion and Pregnancy Due to Rape’, Philosophia, Philosophical Quarterly of Israel 21(3 and 4), 201-220.
- What Are We to Think about Thought Experiments?
Volume 17, Issue 2 , pp 203-217
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- Chinese Room
- philosophy of mind
- thought experiment
- Industry Sectors
- Lawrence Souder (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Culture and Communication, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, U.S.A.