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Putting the ‘Experiment’ back into the ‘Thought Experiment’

Sartori, Lorenzo (2022) Putting the ‘Experiment’ back into the ‘Thought Experiment’. Synthese, 201 (34). ISSN 1573-0964

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Abstract

Philosophers have debated at length the epistemological status of scientific thought experiments. I contend that the literature on this topic still lacks a common conceptual framework, a lacuna that produces radical disagreement among the participants in this debate. To remedy this problem, I suggest focusing on the distinction between the internal and the external validity of an experiment, which is also crucial for thought experiments. I then develop an account of both kinds of validity in the context of thought experiments. I show that we can naturally conceptualise internal validity in terms of games of make-believe. Then, I argue that external validity is best defined as accurate representation of a target system. Finally, I turn back to the current debate on thought experiments and show that my diarchic account provides a general framework that can be shared by the competing philosophical views, as well as a fruitful guide for their reconciliation.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sartori, LorenzoL.Sartori1@lse.ac.uk0000-0002-8457-7100
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Mr. Lorenzo Sartori
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2023 18:21
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 18:21
Item ID: 21673
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 14 December 2022
Volume: 201
Number: 34
ISSN: 1573-0964
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21673

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