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The Role of Imagination in Making Water from Moon Rocks: How Scientists Use Imagination to Break Constraints on Imagination

Stuart, Michael T. and Sargeant, Hannah (2024) The Role of Imagination in Making Water from Moon Rocks: How Scientists Use Imagination to Break Constraints on Imagination. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Scientists recognize the necessity of imagination for solving tough problems. But how does the cognitive faculty responsible for daydreaming help in solving scientific problems? Philosophers claim that imagination is informative only when it is constrained to be maximally realistic. However, using a case study from space science, we show that scientists use imagination intentionally to break reality-oriented constraints. To do this well, they first target low-confidence constraints, and then higher-confidence constraints, until a plausible solution is found. This paper exemplifies a new approach to epistemology of imagination that focuses on sets of imaginings (rather than individual imaginings), and responsible (rather than reliable) imaginings.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Stuart, Michael T.mike.stuart.post@gmail.com0000-0002-4165-2641
Sargeant, HannahHannahMarie.Sargeant@ucf.edu
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Analysis
Keywords: Imagination; space science; philosophy of imagination; philosophy of space science; internalism; externalism; reliabilism; responsibilism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Earth Sciences
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science Education
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Michael T. Stuart
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2024 02:39
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2024 02:39
Item ID: 23016
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Earth Sciences
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science Education
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 2024
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/23016

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