Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 305–322

When Are Thought Experiments Poor Ones?

  • Jeanne Peijnenburg
  • David Atkinson

DOI: 10.1023/B:JGPS.0000005164.26228.f7

Cite this article as:
Peijnenburg, J. & Atkinson, D. Journal for General Philosophy of Science (2003) 34: 305. doi:10.1023/B:JGPS.0000005164.26228.f7


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.

EPR Kant's antinomies Newton's bucket thought experiments 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanne Peijnenburg
    • 1
  • David Atkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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