Thought Experiments

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byRoy A. Sorensen

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Can merely thinking about an imaginary situation provide evidence for how the world actually is--or how it ought to be? In this lively book, Roy A. Sorensen addresses this question with an analysis of a wide variety of thought experiments ranging from aesthetics to zoology. Presenting thefirst general theory of thought experiment, he sets it within an evolutionary framework and integrates recent advances in experimental psychology and the history of science, with special emphasis on Ernst Mach and Thomas Kuhn. Sorensen explores what thought experiments are, how they work, and what their virtues and vices are. In his view, philosophy differs from science in degree, but not in kind. For this reason, he claims, it is possible to understand philosophical thought experiments by concentrating on theirresemblance to scientific relatives. Sorensen assesses the hazards of thought experiments and grants that there are interesting ways in which the method leads us astray, but attacks most scepticism about thought experiments as arbitrary. He maintains that they should be used--as they generallyare--as part of a diversified portfolio of techniques, creating a network of cross-checks that make for impressive reliability.

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Can merely thinking about an imaginary situation provide evidence for how the world actually is--or how it ought to be? In this lively book, Roy A. Sorensen addresses this question with an analysis of a wide variety of thought experiments ranging from aesthetics to zoology. Presenting thefirst general theory of thought experiment, he s...

Roy A. Sorensen is at New York University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.09 × 5.98 × 0.71 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019512913X

ISBN - 13:9780195129137

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"[An] important new book....Sorensen articulates what is sure to become one of the central views about thought experiments, but he also provides an excellent introduction to this wonderful subject. The topic has rather suddenly become a growth industry. Besides its other virtues, RoySorensen's Thought Experiments also offers a very good leg in."--Canadian Journal of Philosophy