Advertisement

Thought Experiments as Model-Based Abductions

  • Selene Arfini
Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 27)

Abstract

In this paper we address the classical but still pending question regarding Thought Experiments: how can an imagined scenario bring new information or insight about the actual world? Our claim is that this general problem actually embraces two distinct questions: (a) how can the creation of a just imagined scenario become functional to either a scientific or a philosophical research? and (b) how can Thought Experiments hold a strong inferential power if their structures “do not seem to translate easily into standard forms of deduction or induction”? (Bishop in Philos Sci 66(4):534–541, 1999). We contend that, in order to answer both questions, we should consider the relation between the creation of the imagined scenario and the inferential power of Thought Experiments. Specifically, we will analyze Thought Experiments from an eco-cognitive point of view as goal-oriented objects, explaining their inferential power considering their generation as the result of abductive cognition and the construction of an imagined scenario as a process of scientific modeling. This will lead us to consider the creation of a Thought Experiment as a case of sophisticated model-based abduction.

Keywords

Mental Model Actual World Thought Experiment Inferential Process Abductive Reasoning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Aliseda, A. (2005). The logic of abduction in the light of Peirce’s pragmatism. Semiotica, 1/4(153):363–374.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, C. (1950) Lucretius on the nature of things. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (translation of De Rerum Naturae).Google Scholar
  3. Bealer, G. (1998). Intuition and the autonomy of philosophy. In M. DePaul & W. Ramsey (Eds.), Rethinking intuition: The psychology of intuition and its role in philosophical inquiry (pp. 201–239). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  4. Bishop, M. (1999). Why thought experiments are not arguments. Philosophy of Science, 66(4), 534–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bohr, N. (1949). Discussion with Einstein on epistemological problems in atomic physics. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, page 201Ð241. La Salle: Open Court.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, J. R. (1991a). The laboratory of the mind: Thought experiments in the natural sciences. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, J. R. (1991). Thought experiments: A platonic account. In Thought experiments in science and philosophy (pp. 119–128). Savage, MD.: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  8. Buzzoni, M. (2013). Thought experiments from a Kantian point of view. In M. Frappier et al. (Eds.), Thought experiments in science, philosophy and arts. Londo: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Craik, K. (1943). The nature of explanations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Crew, H., & De Salvio, A. (1914). Dialogues concerning two new science. New York: The Macmillan Company. (Introduction of A. Favaro).Google Scholar
  11. Dennett, D. (1984). Elbow room. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Di Paolo, E. A., Nobel, J., & Bullock, S. (2000). Simulation models as opaque thought experiments. In N. H. Packard, M. A. Bedau, J. S. McCaskill & S. Rasmussen (Eds.), In Artificial Life VII: The Seventh International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, pages 497–506. MIT Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  13. Einstein, A. (2002). Anti-relativity company. In M. Janssen, R. Schulmann, J. Illy, C. Lehner, & D. K. Buchwald (Eds.), The Berlin years: Writings, 1918–1921, volume 7 of the collected papers of Albert Einstein. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Einstein, A. (2009). Appendix c. In D. K Buchwald, Z. Rosenkranz, T. Sauer, J. Illy, & V. I. Holmes (Eds.), The Berlin Years: Correspondence January-December 1921, volume 12 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. El Skaf, R., & Imbert, C. (2013). Unfolding in the empirical sciences: Experiments, thought experiments and computer simulations. Synthese, 190(16), 3451–3474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gabbay, D. M., & Woods, J. (2005). The reach of abduction: Insight and trial, volume 1 of A practical logic of cognitive systems. Amsterdam: North Holland: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  17. Galilei, G. (1953). Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems, ptolemaic and copernican (S. Drake Forewords by A. Einstein, trans.). Los Angeles: California University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Galili, I. (2007). Thought experiments: Determining their meaning. Science & Education, 18, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gendler, T. S. (2000). Thought experiment: On the powers and limits of imaginary cases. New York: Garland Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gendler, T. S. (2004). Thought experiments rethought—and reperceived. Philosophy of Science, 71, 1152–1163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gettier, E. L. (1963). Is justified true belief knowledge? Analysis, 23, 121–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gooding, D. C. (2002). What is experimental about thought experiments? PSA, 2, 280–290.Google Scholar
  23. Häggqvist, S. (1996). Thought experiments in philosophy. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksel.Google Scholar
  24. Harman, P. M. (1995). Scientific letters and papers of James Clerk Maxwell (Vol. II). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Harman, P. M. (2002). Scientific letters and papers of James Clerk Maxwell (Vol. II). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Hogart, R. M. (1980). Judgment and choice: The psychology of decision. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2004). The history of mental models. Psychology of Reasoning: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives, 179, 417–457.Google Scholar
  28. Kuhn, T. (1977). A function for thought experiments. In T. Kuhn (Ed.), The essential tension. Chicago: Univerity of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Lennox, J. (1991). Darwinian thought experiments: A function for just-so stories. In Thought experiments in science and philosophy (pp. 223–245). Savage, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  30. Mach, E. (1976). On thought experiments. In Knowledge and error (pp. 134–147). Reidel: Dordrecht Holland.Google Scholar
  31. Magnani, L. (1999). Inconsistencies and creative abduction in science. In AI and scientific creativity. Proceedings of the AISB99 Symposium on Scientific Creativity, pages 1–8, Edinburgh, 1999. Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour, University of Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  32. Magnani, L. (2009). Abductive cognition. The epistemological and eco-cognitive dimensions of hypothetical reasoning. Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  33. Magnani, L. (2013). Is abduction ignorance-preserving? Conventions, models, and fictions in science. Logic Journal of IGPL, 21, 882–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Magnani, L. (2015a). The eco-cognitive model of abduction Áπαγωγή no: Naturalizing the logic of abduction. Journal of Applied Logic, 13, 285–315.Google Scholar
  35. Magnani, L. (2015b). The eco-cognitive model of abduction irrelevance and implausibility exculpated. Journal of Applied Logic, 13, 13–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Maxwell, J. C. (1872). The theory of heat. London: Longmans, Green and Co.Google Scholar
  37. Mellenbergh, G. J., Borsboom, D., & Van Heerden, J. (2002). Functional thought experiments. Synthese, 130, 379–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nersessian, N. (1992). In the theoretician’s laboratory: Thought experimenting as mental modeling. PSA, 2, 291–301.Google Scholar
  39. Nersessian, N. J., Chandrasekharan, S., & Subramanian, V. (2012). Computational modeling: Is this the end of thought experimenting in science? In Thought experiments in philosophy, science and the arts (pp. 239–260). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  40. Newton, I. (1969). A treatise of the system of the world. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  41. Newton, I. (1999). The principia: Mathematical principles of natural philosophy (B. Cohen, A. Whitman, & J. Budenz, trans.). Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  42. Norton, J. D. (2004). On thought experiments: Is there more to the argument? Philosophy of Science, 71, 139Ð1151.Google Scholar
  43. Nozick, R. (1974). Anarchy, State and Utopia. Chicago: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  44. Peirce, C. S. (1992–1998). The essential Peirce. Selected philosophical writings. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Vol. 1 (1867–1893), N. Houser & C. Kloesel (Eds.), Vol. 2 (1893–1913) by the Peirce Edition Project.Google Scholar
  45. Popper, K. (1959) On the use and misuse of imaginary experiments, especially in quantum theory. The Logic of Scientific Discovery (pp. 442–456).Google Scholar
  46. Reiner, M., & Gilbert, J. (2000). Epistemological resources for thought experimentation in science education. International Journal of Science Education, 22(5), 489–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rowbottom, D. P. (2012) Intuitions in science: Thought experiments as argument pumps. In Intuitions (pp. 119–134). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Schrödinger, E. (1983) The present situation in quantum mechanics. In J. A. Wheeler & W. H. Zurek (Eds.), Quantum theory and measurement, page part I. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. (Translated by J. D. Trimmer).Google Scholar
  49. Searle, J. (1980). Minds, brains and programs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3, 179–212.Google Scholar
  50. Simon, H. A. (1997). Models of bounded rationality. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  51. Sorensen, R. A. (1992). Thought experiments. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Thagard, P. (1992). Conceptual revolutions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Thagard, P. (2014). Thought experiments considered harmful. Perspectives on Science, 22(2), 288–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thomson, J. J. (1971). A defense of abortion. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1, 47–66.Google Scholar
  55. Turing, A. M. (1950). Computing machinery and intelligence. Mind, 59, 433–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wilkes, K. V. (1999). Real people personal identity without thought experiments. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  57. Wittgenstein, L. (1958) Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd. (Translated by G. E. M. Anscombe).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Education and Economical-Quantitative SciencesUniversity of Chieti and PescaraChietiItaly

Personalised recommendations