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Sharpening the tools of imagination

Stuart, Michael T. (2022) Sharpening the tools of imagination. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Thought experiments, models, diagrams, computer simulations, and metaphors can all be understood as tools of the imagination. While these devices are usually treated separately in philosophy of science, this paper provides a unified account according to which tools of the imagination are epistemically good insofar as they improve scientific imaginings. Improving scientific imagining is characterized in terms of epistemological consequences: more improvement means better consequences. A distinction is then drawn between tools being good in retrospect, at the time, and in general. In retrospect, tools are evaluated straightforwardly in terms of the quality of their consequences. At the cutting edge, tools are evaluated positively insofar as there is reason to believe that using them will have good consequences. Lastly, tools can be generally good, insofar as their use encourages the development of epistemic virtues, which are good because they have good epistemic consequences.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Stuart, Michael T.mike.stuart.post@gmail.com0000-0002-4165-2641
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Synthese
Keywords: epistemic tools; thought experiment; visualization; models; computer simulations; metaphor; metaepistemology; epistemology of science; epistemological consequentialism; deontic epistemology; virtue epistemology; scientific imagination
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science Education
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Michael T. Stuart
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2022 14:54
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2022 14:54
Item ID: 21258
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science Education
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21258

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