Why Thought Experiments Are Not Arguments

  title={Why Thought Experiments Are Not Arguments},
  author={Michael A. Bishop},
  journal={Philosophy of Science},
  pages={534 - 541}
  • M. Bishop
  • Published 1 December 1999
  • Philosophy, Education
  • Philosophy of Science
Are thought experiments nothing but arguments? I argue that it is not possible to make sense of the historical trajectory of certain thought experiments if one takes them to be arguments. Einstein and Bohr disagreed about the outcome of the clock-in-the-box thought experiment, and so they reconstructed it using different arguments. This is to be expected whenever scientists disagree about a thought experiment's outcome. Since any such episode consists of two arguments but just one thought… 
Thought Experiments
This paper seeks to explain how thought experiments work, and also the reasons why they can fail. The paper is split into four sections. The first argues that thought experiments in philosophy and
Norton and the Logic of Thought Experiments
John D. Norton defends an empiricist epistemology of thought experiments, the central thesis of which is that thought experiments are nothing more than arguments. Philosophers have attempted to
Rethinking Thought Experiments
An examination of two thought experiments in contemporary physics reveals that the same thought experiment can be reanalyzed from the perspective of different and incompatible theories. This fact
Why Thought Experiments Do Not Transcend Empiricism
Thought experiments are ordinary argumentation disguised in a vivid pictorial or narrative form. This account of their nature will allow me to show that empiricism has nothing to fear from thought
When Are Thought Experiments Poor Ones?
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.
The material theory of induction and the epistemology of thought experiments.
  • M. Stuart
  • Philosophy
    Studies in history and philosophy of science
  • 2020
Experiments in Thought
What are thought experiments, and how do they generate knowledge? More specifically, what sorts of intentional acts must one perform in order to carry out a thought experiment, what sorts of objects
A Model for Thought Experiments
Philosophical interest in thought experiments has grown over the last couple of decades. Several positions have emerged, defi ned largely by their differing responses to a perceived epistemological
Argumentative moves in a thought experiment
A thought experiment is a form of academic interaction in which two or more scholars discuss based on an imaginary scenario the acceptability of an aca-demic claim. The argumentative dimension of


Are Thought Experiments Just What You Thought?
  • J. Norton
  • Education, Philosophy
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy
  • 1996
Whatever the original intent, the introduction of the term ‘thought experiment’ has proved to be one of the great public relations coups of science writing. For generations of readers of scientific
Thought Experiments in Einstein's Work
Preface: This volume originated in a conference on "The Place of Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy" which was organized by us and held at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the
Thought experiments in science and philosophy
Preface: This volume originated in a conference on "The Place of Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy" which was organized by us and held at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the
An Epistemological Role for Thought Experiments
  • Idealization IX: Idealization in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities
  • 1998
An Epistemological Role for Thought Experiments", in Niall Shanks (ed.), Idealization IX: Idealization
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Thought Experimenting as Mental Modeling
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Darwinian Thought Experiments: A Function for Just-So Stories
  • in Horowitz and Massey
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On the Nature of Thought Experiments in Scientific Reasoning
  • in Horowitz and Massey
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