Thought Experiments Rethought—and Reperceived

Tamar Szabó Gendler

in Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589760
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595486 | DOI:
Thought Experiments Rethought—and Reperceived

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This chapter explores the question of how contemplation of an imaginary scenario can lead to new knowledge about contingent features of the natural world—that is, how it can provide us with relevant beliefs about contingent matters that are simultaneously new and justified. It traces the source of both novelty and justification to the ways in which focusing one's attention on a specific scenario (as opposed to a general schema) may evoke quasi‐sensory intuitions which then serve as a basei for novel justified true beliefs. Drawing on work on mental imagery by Roger Shepard, Daniel Reisberg, and others, the chapter presents empirical psychological evidence that supports its main thesis; it also includes a comparison of the author's views with those of James Robert Brown and John Norton.

Keywords: scientific thought experiment; imagination; mental imagery; Roger Shepard; Daniel Reisberg; James Robert Brown; John Norton

Chapter.  5117 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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