Philosophical Studies

, Volume 142, Issue 2, pp 221–246 | Cite as

Thought-experiment intuitions and truth in fiction

  • Jonathan IchikawaEmail author
  • Benjamin Jarvis


What sorts of things are the intuitions generated via thought experiment? Timothy Williamson has responded to naturalistic skeptics by arguing that thought-experiment intuitions are judgments of ordinary counterfactuals. On this view, the intuition is naturalistically innocuous, but it has a contingent content and could be known at best a posteriori. We suggest an alternative to Williamson’s account, according to which we apprehend thought-experiment intuitions through our grasp on truth in fiction. On our view, intuitions like the Gettier intuition are necessarily true and knowable a priori. Our view, like Williamson’s, avoids naturalistic skepticism.


Thought experiments Philosophical methodology Intuitions Gettier cases Timothy Williamson A priori knowledge 



We are grateful to Tamar Szabó Gendler, Richard Heck, Kelby Mason, Joshua Schechter, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Alvin Goldman, Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Ernest Sosa, John Turri, and Timothy Williamson for invaluable comments and discussion. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2006 Harvard-MIT Graduate Philosophy Conference; we are grateful for helpful discussion from the conference participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PhilosophyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.PhilosophyBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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