, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 305-322

When Are Thought Experiments Poor Ones?

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Abstract

A characteristic of contemporary analytic philosophy is its ample use of thought experiments. We formulate two features that can lead one to suspect that a given thought experiment is a poor one. Although these features are especially in evidence within the philosophy of mind, they can, surprisingly enough, also be discerned in some celebrated scientific thought experiments. Yet in the latter case the consequences appear to be less disastrous. We conclude that the use of thought experiments is more successful in science than in philosophy.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.