, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 771–779 | Cite as

Thought Experiments in Philosophy: A Neo-Kantian and Experimentalist Point of View

  • Marco BuzzoniEmail author


The paper addresses the question of the nature and limits of philosophical thought experiments. On the one hand, experimental philosophers are right to claim that we need much more laboratory work in order to have more reliable thought experiments, but on the other hand a naturalism that is too radical is incapable of clarifying the peculiarity of thought experiments in philosophy. Starting from a historico-critical reconstruction of Kant’s concept of the “experiments of pure reason”, this paper outlines an account of thought experiments in philosophy that tries to reconcile the thesis of a principled difference between scientific and philosophical TEs with the position of a methodological naturalism that does not admit any difference in kind between the methods of science and of philosophy.


Thought experiment in philosophy Experimentalist philosophy Kantian account of thought experiment Experiments of pure reason 



I would like to thank Mike Stuart for many helpful comments and criticisms of an earlier draft of this article. I am also grateful to two anonymous referees for this journal and to the editors of the present issue for a number of useful criticisms and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Studi UmanisticiUniversità di MacerataMacerataItaly
  2. 2.GenoaItaly

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