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Encyclopedia > Thought experiment

A thought experiment (from the German term Gedankenexperiment, coined by Hans Christian Ørsted) in the broadest sense is the use of a hypothetical scenario to help us understand the way things actually are. There are many different kinds of thought experiments. All thought experiments, however, employ a methodology that is a priori, rather than empirical, in that they do not proceed by observation or physical experiment. “Ørsted” redirects here. ... A scenario (from the Italian, that which is pinned to the scenery) is a brief description of an event or a series of events. ... Methodology is defined as the analysis of the // == Headline text == principles of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline or the development of methods, to be applied within a discipline a particular procedure or set of procedures. [1]. It should be noted that methodology is frequently used when method... The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish between two different types of propositional knowledge. ... A central concept in science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses. ... For other uses, see Observation (disambiguation). ... In the scientific method, an experiment (Latin: ex- periri, of (or from) trying) is a set of observations performed in the context of solving a particular problem or question, to support or falsify a hypothesis or research concerning phenomena. ...


Thought experiments have been used in a variety of fields, including philosophy, law, physics, and mathematics. In philosophy, they have been used at least since Greek antiquity, some pre-dating Socrates. In law, they were well-known to Roman lawyers quoted in the Digest. In physics and other sciences, notable thought experiments date from the 19th, and especially the 20th Century, but examples can be found at least as early as Galileo. For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Law (disambiguation). ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Using the term Roman law in a broader sense, one may say that Roman law is not only the legal system of ancient Rome but the law that was applied throughout most of Europe until the end of the 18th century. ... Pandects (Lat. ... Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who is closely associated with the scientific revolution. ...

Contents

Origins and use of the term "thought experiment"

Witt-Hansen established that Hans Christian Ørsted was the first to use the Latin-German mixed term Gedankenexperiment (lit. experiment conducted in the thoughts) circa 1812. Ørsted was also the first to use its entirely German equivalent, Gedankenversuch, in 1820. “Ørsted” redirects here. ...


Much later, Ernst Mach used the term Gedankenexperiment to exclusively denote the imaginary conduct of a real experiment that would be subsequently performed as a real physical experiment by his students — thus the contrast between physical and mental experimentation — with Mach asking his students to provide him with explanations whenever it happened that the results from their subsequent, real, physical experiment had differed from those of their prior, imaginary experiment. Ernst Mach Ernst Mach (February 18, 1838 – February 19, 1916) was an Austrian-Czech physicist and philosopher and is the namesake for the Mach number and the optical illusion known as Mach bands. ...


The English term thought experiment was coined (as a calque) from Mach’s Gedankenexperiment, and it first appeared in the 1897 English translation of one of Mach’s papers. // In linguistics, a calque (pronounced ) or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word (Latin: verbum pro verbo) or root-for-root translation. ...


In many ways, the emergence of the term "thought experiment" is a classic case of positioning. Prior to its emergence, the activity of posing hypothetical questions that employed subjunctive reasoning had existed for a very long time (for both scientists and philosophers). However, people had no way of categorizing it or speaking about it. This helps to explain the extremely wide and diverse range of the application of the term "thought experiment" once it had been introduced into English. A products position is how potential buyers see the product. ...


Thought experimentation in general

In its broadest usage, thought experimentation is the process of employing imaginary situations to help us understand the way things really are (or, in the case of Herman Kahn’s "scenarios", understand something about something in the future). The understanding comes through reflection upon this imaginary situation. Thought experimentation is an a priori, rather than an empirical process, in that the experiments are conducted within the imagination (i.e., Brown’s (1993) "laboratory of the mind"), and never in fact. Herman Kahn, May 1965 Herman Kahn (February 15, 1922 – July 7, 1983) was a military strategist and systems theorist employed at RAND Corporation, USA. // Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, Kahn grew up in the Bronx, then in Los Angeles following his parents divorce. ... The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish between two different types of propositional knowledge. ... A central concept in science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses. ...


Thought experiments, which are well-structured, well-defined hypothetical questions that employ subjunctive reasoning (irrealis moods) -- "What might happen (or, what might have happened) if . . . " -- have been used to pose questions in philosophy at least since Greek antiquity, some pre-dating Socrates (see Rescher). In physics and other sciences many famous thought experiments date from the 19th and especially the 20th Century, but examples can be found at least as early as Galileo. The subjunctive mood (sometimes referred to as the conjunctive mood) is a grammatical mood of the verb that expresses wishes, commands (in subordinate clauses), and statements that are contrary to fact. ... Irrealis moods are the set of grammatical moods that indicate that something is not actually the case. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Galileo can refer to: Galileo Galilei, astronomer, philosopher, and physicist (1564 - 1642) the Galileo spacecraft, a NASA space probe that visited Jupiter and its moons the Galileo positioning system Life of Galileo, a play by Bertolt Brecht Galileo (1975) - screen adaptation of the play Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht...


Thought experiments have been used in philosophy, physics, and other fields (such as cognitive psychology, history, political science, economics, social psychology, law, organizational studies, marketing, and epidemiology). In law, the synonym "hypothetical" is frequently used for such experiments. For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... Cognitive Psychology is the school of psychology that examines internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language. ... History studies time in human terms. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... ‹ The template below is being considered for deletion. ... The scope of social psychological research. ... For other uses, see Law (disambiguation). ... Organizational studies, organizational behaviour, and organizational theory are related terms for the academic study of organizations, examining them using the methods of economics, sociology, political science, anthropology, and psychology. ... For the magazine, see Marketing (magazine). ... Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations, and serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and preventive medicine. ...


Regardless of their intended goal, all thought experiments display a patterned way of thinking that is designed to allow us to explain, predict and control events in a better and more productive way.


The theoretical consequences of thought experimentation

In terms of their theoretical consequences, thought experiments generally:

  • challenge (or, even, refute) a prevailing theory, often involving the device known as reductio ad absurdum,
  • confirm a prevailing theory,
  • establish a new theory, or
  • simultaneously refute a prevailing theory and establish a new theory through a process of mutual exclusion.

Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: reduction to the absurd) also known as an apagogical argument, reductio ad impossibile, or proof by contradiction, is a type of logical argument where one assumes a claim for the sake of argument, derives an absurd or ridiculous outcome, and then concludes that the original assumption...

The practical application of thought experimentation

Thought experiments often introduce interesting, important and valuable new perspectives on old mysteries and old questions; yet, although they may make old questions irrelevant, they may also create new questions that are not easy to answer.


In terms of their practical application, thought experiments are generally created in order to:

  • challenge the prevailing status quo (which includes activities such as correcting misinformation (or misapprehension), identify flaws in the argument(s) presented, to preserve (for the long-term) objectively established fact, and to refute specific assertions that some particular thing is permissible, forbidden, known, believed, possible, or necessary);
  • extrapolate beyond (or interpolate within) the boundaries of already established fact;
  • predict and forecast the (otherwise) indefinite and unknowable future;
  • explain the past;
  • the retrodiction, postdiction and postcasting of the (otherwise) indefinite and unknowable past;
  • facilitate decision making, choice and strategy selection;
  • solve problems, and generate ideas;
  • move current (often insoluble) problems into another, more helpful and more productive problem space (e.g., see functional fixedness);
  • attribute causation, preventability, blame and responsibility for specific outcomes;
  • assess culpability and compensatory damages in social and legal contexts;
  • ensure the repeat of past success; or
  • examine the extent to which past events might have occurred differently.
  • ensure the (future) avoidance of past failures.

This article is about the English rock band. ... Misinformation is information that is incorrect, but not because of a deliberate attempt to mislead. ... In mathematics, extrapolation is a type of interpolation. ... This article is about interpolation in mathematics. ... Prediction of future events is an ancient human wish. ... Prediction of future events is an ancient human wish. ... Retrodiction (or postdiction, though this should not be confused with the use of the term in criticisms of parapsychological research) is the act of making a prediction about the past. ... Postdiction, post-shadowing, retroactive clairvoyance, and prediction after the fact are terms used by critics to refer to those who use hindsight to claim to have predicted a significant event such as a plane crash or natural disaster. ... Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used. ... Culpability (Blameworthiness) is the state of deserving to be blamed for a crime or offence. ... Compensatory damages are damages awarded for civil cases, it is awarded to the succesful party, in the case of the plaintiff, it is awarded as a compensation for the pain undegone and also in most cases is included the legal services payment, however if it is the defendant that wins...

Thought experimentation in science

Scientists tend to use thought experiments in the form of imaginary, "proxy" experiments which they conduct prior to a real, "physical" experiment (Ernst Mach always argued that these gedankenexperiments were "a necessary precondition for physical experiment"). In these cases, the result of the "proxy" experiment will often be so clear that there will be no need to conduct a physical experiment at all. Ernst Mach Ernst Mach (February 18, 1838 – February 19, 1916) was an Austrian-Czech physicist and philosopher and is the namesake for the Mach number and the optical illusion known as Mach bands. ...


Scientists also use thought experiments when particular physical experiments are impossible to conduct (Carl Gustav Hempel labelled these sorts of experiment "theoretical experiments-in-imagination"), such as Einstein's thought experiment of chasing a light beam, leading to Special Relativity. This is a unique use of a scientific thought experiment, in that it was never carried out, but led to a successful theory, proven by other empirical means. Carl Gustav Hempel (* January 8th, 1905 in Oranienburg, Germany † November 9th, 1997 in Princeton, New Jersey) was a philosopher of science and a student of logical positivism. ... Einstein redirects here. ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to special relativity. ...


Causal reasoning in thought experiments

Generally speaking, there are seven types of thought experiments in which one reasons from causes to effects, or effects to causes:


Prefactual thought experiments

Prefactual (“before the fact”) thought experiments speculate on possible future outcomes, given the present, and ask "What will be the outcome if event E occurs?"


Counterfactual thought experiments

Counterfactual (“contrary to established fact”) thought experiments speculate on the possible outcomes of a different past; and ask "What might have happened if A had happened instead of B?" (e.g., "If Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz had cooperated with each other, what would mathematics look like today?"). Sir Isaac Newton FRS (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) [ OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727][1] was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist. ... “Leibniz” redirects here. ...


Semifactual thought experiments

Semifactual thought experiments speculate on the extent to which things might have remained the same, despite there being a different past; and asks the question “Even though X happened instead of E, would Y have still occurred?” (e.g., “Even if the goalie had moved left, rather than right, could he have intercepted a ball that was travelling at such a speed?”).


Semifactual speculations are an important part of clinical medicine.


Prediction, forecasting and nowcasting

The activities of prediction, forecasting and nowcasting attempt to project the circumstances of the present into the future (the only difference between these identically patterned activities being the distance of their speculated future from the present).


Hindcasting

The activity of hindcasting involves running a forecast model after an event has happened in order to test whether the model’s simulation is valid.


Retrodiction (or postdiction)

The activity of retrodiction (or postdiction) involves moving backwards in time, step-by-step, in as many stages as are considered necessary, from the present into the speculated past, in order to establish the ultimate cause of a specific event (e.g., Reverse engineering and Forensics). Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of taking something (a device, an electrical component, a software program, etc. ... The word forensic (from Latin: forensis - forum) refers to something of, pertaining to, or used in a court of law. ...


Backcasting

The activity of backcasting involves establishing the description of a very definite and very specific future situation. It then involves an imaginary moving backwards in time, step-by-step, in as many stages as are considered necessary, from the future to the present, in order to reveal the mechanism through which that particular specified future could be attained from the present.


It is important to recognize that a major difficulty with all types of thought experiment, and particularly with counterfactual thought experiments, is that there are no formally accepted criteria for accurately measuring the risk of either Type I errors (False positive) or Type II errors (False negative) in the choice of a potential causative factor. Type I errors (or α error, or false positive) and type II errors (β error, or a false negative) are two terms used to describe statistical errors. ... Type I errors (or α error, or false positive) and type II errors (β error, or a false negative) are two terms used to describe statistical errors. ...


Thought experiments in philosophy

Whereas thought experiments in physics are intended to give us a priori knowledge of the natural world, philosophy attempts to produce a priori knowledge of our concepts: The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish between two different types of propositional knowledge. ...

[Philosophical and scientific] investigations differ both in their methods (the former is a priori, and the latter a posteriori) and in the metaphysical status of their results (the former yields facts that are metaphysically necessary and the latter yields facts that are metaphysically contingent). Yet the two types of investigations resemble each other in that both, if successful, uncover new facts, and these facts, although expressed in language, are generally not about language (except for investigations in such specialized areas as philosophy of language and empirical linguistics).[1]

In philosophy, a thought experiment typically presents an imagined scenario with the intention of eliciting an intuitive response about the way things are in the thought experiment. (Philosophers might also supplement their thought experiments with theoretical reasoning designed to support the desired intuitive response.) The scenario will typically be designed to target a particular philosophical notion, such as morality, or the nature of the mind or linguistic reference. The intuitive response to the imagined scenario is supposed to tell us about the nature of that notion in any scenario, real or imagined.


For example, a thought experiment might present a situation in which an agent intentionally kills an innocent for the benefit of others. Here, the relevant question is whether the action is moral or not, but more broadly whether a moral theory is correct that says morality is determined solely by an action’s consequences (See Consequentialism). John Searle imagines a man in a locked room who receives written sentences in Chinese, and returns written sentences in Chinese, according to a sophisticated instruction manual. Here, the relevant question is whether or not the man understands Chinese, but more broadly, whether a functionalist theory of mind is correct. Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. ... John Rogers Searle (born July 31, 1932 in Denver, Colorado) is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and is noted for contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and consciousness, on the characteristics of socially constructed versus physical realities, and on practical reason. ... Functionalism is a theory of the mind in contemporary philosophy, developed largely as an alternative to both the identity theory of mind and behaviorism. ...


It is generally hoped that there is universal agreement about the intuitions that a thought experiment elicits. (Hence, in assessing their own thought experiments, philosophers may appeal to "what we should say," or some such locution.) A successful thought experiment will be one in which intuitions about it are widely shared. But often, philosophers differ in their intuitions about the scenario.


Other philosophical uses of imagined scenarios arguably are thought experiments also. In one use of scenarios, philosophers might imagine persons in a particular situation (maybe ourselves), and ask what they would do. For example, John Rawls asks us to imagine a group of persons in a situation where they know nothing about themselves, and are charged with devising a social or political organization (See the veil of ignorance). The use of the state of nature to imagine the origins of government, as by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, may also be considered a thought experiment. Similarly, Nietzsche, in On the Genealogy of Morals, speculated about the historical development of Judeo-Christian morality, with the intent of questioning its legitimacy. John Rawls (February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American philosopher, a professor of political philosophy at Harvard University and author of A Theory of Justice (1971), Political Liberalism, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, and The Law of Peoples. ... The veil of ignorance is a concept introduced by John Rawls in A Theory of Justice. ... State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition of humanity before the states foundation and its monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. ... This article is about the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. ... For other persons named John Locke, see John Locke (disambiguation). ... Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882 Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 - August 25, 1900) was a highly influential German philosopher. ... On the Genealogy of Morals (German: Zur Genealogie der Moral), subtitled A Polemic (Eine Streitschrift), is a work by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed and first published in 1887. ...


Philosophical thought experiments and possibility

The scenario presented in a thought experiment must be possible in some sense. In many thought experiments, the scenario would be nomologically possible, or possible according to the laws of nature. John Searle’s Chinese Room is nomologically possible. An event or situation is a nomological possibility just in case it is possible given the laws of nature that govern our physical universe. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


Some thought experiments present scenarios that are not nomologically possible. In his Twin Earth thought experiment, Hilary Putnam asks us to imagine a scenario in which there is a substance with all of the observable properties of water (e.g., taste, color, boiling point), but which is chemically different from water. It has been argued that this thought experiment is not nomologically possible, although it may be possible in some other sense, such as metaphysical possibility. It is debatable whether the nomological impossibility of a thought experiment renders intuitions about it moot. The Twin Earth thought experiment was presented by philosopher Hilary Putnam in his important 1975 paper The Meaning of Meaning, as an early argument for what has subsequently come to be known as semantic externalism. ... Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) is an American philosopher who has been a central figure in Western philosophy since the 1960s, especially in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. ... Subjunctive possibility (also called alethic possibility or metaphysical possibility) is the form of modality most frequently studied in modal logic. ...


In some cases, the hypothetical scenario might be considered metaphysically impossible, or impossible in any sense at all. David Chalmers says that we can imagine that there are zombies, or persons who are physically identical to us in every way but who lack consciousness. This is supposed to show that physicalism is false. However, some argue that zombies are inconceivable: we can no more imagine a zombie than we can imagine that 1+1=3. David John Chalmers (born April 20, 1966) is a philosopher in the area of philosophy of mind. ... In philosophy, a philosophical zombie or p-zombie is a hypothetical person that, despite a strong likeness to normal human beings, lacks conscious experience or (in other words) has no qualia at all. ... The term physicalism was coined by Otto Neurath, in a series of early 20th century essays on the subject, in which he wrote According to physicalism, the language of physics is the universal language of science and, consequently, any knowledge can be brought back to the statements on the physical...


Other criticisms of philosophical thought experiments

The use of thought experiments in philosophy has received other criticisms, especially in the philosophy of mind. Daniel Dennett has derisively referred to certain types of thought experiments such as the Chinese Room experiment as "intuition pumps", claiming they are simply thinly veiled appeals to intuition which fail when carefully analyzed. Another criticism that has been voiced is that some science fiction-type thought experiments are too wild to yield clear intuitions, or that any resulting intuitions could not possibly pertain to the real world. Another criticism is that philosophers have used thought experiments (and other a priori methods) in areas where empirical science should be the primary method of discovery, as for example, with issues about the mind. A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Daniel Clement Dennett (b. ... An intuition pump is a term coined by Daniel Dennett for a thought experiment structured to elicit intuitive answers about a problem. ...


Famous thought experiments

Physics

Thought experiments are popular in physics and include: A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ...

Newtons cannonball was a thought experiment Isaac Newton used to hypothesize that the force of gravity was universal, and it was the key force for planetary motion. ... Newtons First and Second laws, in Latin, from the original 1687 edition of the Principia Mathematica. ... The Brownian ratchet is a thought experiment about an apparent perpetual motion machine postulated by Richard Feynman in a physics lecture at the California Institute of Technology on May 11, 1962 as an illustration of the laws of thermodynamics. ... This article is about the physicist. ... This article or section should include material from Parallel Path See also Perpetuum mobile as a musical term Perpetual motion machines (the Latin term perpetuum mobile is not uncommon) are a class of hypothetical machines which would produce useful energy in a way science cannot explain (yet). ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to entropy. ... Galileos Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems considers all the common arguments against the idea that the Earth moves. ... See also: 1632 (novel) Events February 22 - Galileos Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is published July 23 - 300 colonists for New France depart Dieppe November 8 - Wladyslaw IV Waza elected king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after Zygmunt III Waza death November 16 - Battle of Lützen... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... GHZ experiments are a class of experiments which arise in quantum mechanics, in discussion and experimental determination of whether local hidden variables are required for, or even compatible with, the representation of experimental results; and with particular relevance to the EPR experiment. ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to quantum mechanics. ... In quantum mechanics, the EPR paradox is a thought experiment which challenged long-held ideas about the relation between the observed values of physical quantities and the values that can be accounted for by a physical theory. ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to quantum mechanics. ... The ladder paradox or (barn-pole paradox) is a thought experiment in special relativity. ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to special relativity. ... Maxwells demon is an 1867 thought experiment by the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, meant to raise questions about the possibility of violating the second law of thermodynamics. ... Thermodynamics (from the Greek θερμη, therme, meaning heat and δυναμις, dynamis, meaning power) is a branch of physics that studies the effects of changes in temperature, pressure, and volume on physical systems at the macroscopic scale by analyzing the collective motion of their particles using statistics. ... 1871 (MDCCCLXXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... In quantum mechanics, quantum suicide is a thought experiment which was independently proposed in 1987 by Hans Moravec and in 1988 by Bruno Marchal, and further developed by Max Tegmark in 1998, that attempts to distinguish between the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics and the Everett many-worlds interpretation by... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to quantum mechanics. ... Schrödingers Cat: When the nucleus (bottom left) decays, the Geiger counter (bottom centre) may sense it and trigger the release of the gas. ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to quantum mechanics. ... In his famous work on Special Relativity in 1905, Albert Einstein predicted that when two clocks were brought together and synchronised, and then one was moved away and brought back, the clock which had undergone the traveling would be found to be lagging behind the clock which had stayed put. ... Wigners friend is a thought experiment proposed by the physicist Eugene Wigner; it is an extension of the Schrödingers cat experiment designed as a point of departure for discussing the mind-body problem as viewed by the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. ... For a less technical and generally accessible introduction to the topic, see Introduction to quantum mechanics. ... Wittgensteins Rod is a thought experiment attributed to Ludwig Wittgenstein. ... Engineering mechanics is a branch of the physical sciences which looks to understand the actions and reactions of bodies at rest or in motion. ... Visualization can refer to: Graphic Visualization as in any technique for creating images, diagrams, or animations to communicate any message. ... Isaac Newtons rotating bucket argument attempts to show that true rotational motion cannot be defined as the relative rotation of the body with respect to the immediately surrounding bodies. ...

Philosophy

The field of philosophy makes extensive use of thought experiments: For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ...

In philosophy, the brain in a vat is any of a variety of thought experiments intended to draw out certain features of our ideas of knowledge, reality, truth, mind, and meaning. ... It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... In the philosophy of mind, the Brainstorm machine is a thought experiment, or intuition pump, described by Daniel Dennett, to show that it is not possible to intersubjectively compare any two individuals personal experiences, or qualia, even with perfect technology. ... This article is about the thought experiment called changing places. To read about the novel by David Lodge, see Changing Places The changing places thought experiment was created by Max Velmans, Reader of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and was discussed in his 2000 work, Understanding Consciousness. ... Monism is the view that the universe, at the deepest level of analysis, is one thing or composed of one fundamental kind of stuff. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... The China brain is the name of a thought experiment used in the feild of philosophy of mind. ... The term physicalism was coined by Otto Neurath, in a series of early 20th century essays on the subject, in which he wrote According to physicalism, the language of physics is the universal language of science and, consequently, any knowledge can be brought back to the statements on the physical... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Bold text[[Link title]] “AI” redirects here. ... Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... In a thought experiment proposed by the Italian probabilist Bruno de Finetti in order to justify Bayesian probability, an array of wagers is coherent precisely if it does not expose the wagerer to certain loss if his opponent is prudent. ... Cover of Gods Debris. ... In biological psychology, awareness describes a human or animals perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event. ... Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) is an American philosopher who has been a central figure in Western philosophy since the 1960s, especially in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. ... The Twin Earth thought experiment was presented by philosopher Hilary Putnam in his important 1975 paper The Meaning of Meaning, as an early argument for what has subsequently come to be known as semantic externalism. ... Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Inverted spectrum is the apparent possibility of two people sharing their colour vocabulary and discriminations, although the colours one sees are systematically different from the colours the other person sees. ... Marys room (also known as Mary the super-scientist) is a philosophical thought experiment proposed by Frank Jackson in his article Epiphenomenal Qualia (1982) and extended in What Mary Didnt Know (1986). ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... The original position is a hypothetical situation created by American philosopher John Rawls as a thought experiment to replace the imagery of a savage state of nature of prior political philosophers like Thomas Hobbes. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. ... In philosophy, a philosophical zombie or p-zombie is a hypothetical person that, despite a strong likeness to normal human beings, lacks conscious experience or (in other words) has no qualia at all. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Bold text[[Link title]] “AI” redirects here. ... Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... In ethics, the plank of Carneades is a thought experiment first proposed by Carneades of Cyrene; it explores the concept of self-defense. ... This article deals with the philosophical and political concept of the social contract, and not with juridical contract theory. ... The Ship of Theseus is a paradox also known as Theseus paradox. ... In philosophy, identity is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable, in terms of possessing a set of qualities or characteristics that distinguish it from entities of a different type. ... Simulated reality is the idea that reality could be simulated — often computer-simulated — to a degree indistinguishable from true reality. ... Computer science, or computing science, is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their implementation and application in computer systems. ... Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... Swamp man is the title given to a philosophical thought experiment about causality and personal identity, first put forward in this form by Donald Davidson: Suppose Don goes hiking in the swamp and is struck and killed by a lightning bolt. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics, first introduced by Philippa Foot, but also extensively analysed by Judith Jarvis Thomson and, more recently, by Peter Unger. ... For other uses, see Ethics (disambiguation). ... This problem, which is a famous thought experiment, was first posed by Judith Jarvis Thomson in 1971. ... For other uses, see Ethics (disambiguation). ... “Arrow paradox” redirects here. ...

Mathematics

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Ping-pong ball conundrum. ... Gabriels Horn (also called Torricellis trumpet) is a figure invented by Evangelista Torricelli which has infinite surface area, but finite volume. ...

Miscellaneous

The Doomsday argument (DA) is a probabilistic argument that claims to predict the future lifetime of the human race given only an estimate of the total number of humans born so far. ... In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is an umbrella term for various dissimilar attempts to explain the structure of the universe by way of coincidentally balanced features that are necessary and relevant to the existence of observers (usually assumed to be carbon-based life or even specifically human beings). ... Given enough time, a chimpanzee typing at random will allegedly type out a copy of one of Shakespeares plays. ... In computability theory the halting problem is a decision problem which can be informally stated as follows: Given a description of a program and a finite input, decide whether the program finishes running or will run forever, given that input. ... The Lady, or the Tiger? is a famous short story written by Frank R. Stockton in 1882. ... An artistic representation of a Turing Machine . ... In computer science, the dining philosophers problem is an illustrative example of a common computing problem in concurrency. ... Computer science, or computing science, is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their implementation and application in computer systems. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Ackermann, F., "Philosophical Knowledge", pp.342-345 in Dancy, J. & Sosa, E. (eds.), A Companion to Epistemology, Blackwell Publishers, (Oxford), 1993, pp.342-343.
  2. ^ While the problem presented in this short story's scenario is not unique, it is extremely unusual. Most thought experiments are intentionally (or, even, sometimes unintentionally) skewed towards the inevitable production of a particular solution to the problem posed; and this happens because of the way that the problem and the scenario are framed in the first place. In the case of The Lady, or the Tiger?, the way that the story unfolds is so "end-neutral" that, at the finish, there is no "correct" solution to the problem. Therefore, all that one can do is to offer one's own innermost thoughts on how the account of human nature that has been presented might unfold — according to one's own experience of human nature — which is, obviously, the purpose of the entire exercise. The extent to which the story can provoke such an extremely wide range of (otherwise equipollent) predictions of the participants' subsequent behaviour is one of the reasons the story has been so popular over time.

Two sets A and B are said to be equinumerous if they have the same cardinality, i. ...

Significant articles about thought experiments or thought experimentation

  • Dennett, D.C., "Intuition Pumps", pp.180-197 in Brockman, J., The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution, Simon & Schuster, (New York), 1995. [2]
  • Galton, F., "Statistics of Mental Imagery", Mind, Vol.5, No.19, (July 1880), pp.301-318.
  • Hempel, C.G., "Typological Methods in the Natural and Social Sciences", pp.155-171 in Hempel, C.G. (ed.), Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science, The Free Press, (New York), 1965.
  • Mach, E., "On Thought Experiments", pp.134-147 in Mach, E., Knowledge and Error: Sketches on the Psychology of Enquiry, D. Reidel Publishing Co., (Dordrecht), 1976. [Translation of Erkenntnis und Irrtum (5th edition, 1926.].
  • Popper, K., "On the Use and Misuse of Imaginary Experiments, Especially in Quantum Theory", pp.442-456, in Popper, K., The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Harper Torchbooks, (New York), 1968.
  • Rescher, N., "Thought Experiment in Pre-Socratic Philosophy", pp.31-41 in Horowitz, T. & Massey, G.J. (eds.), Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy, Rowman & Littlefield, (Savage), 1991.
  • Witt-Hansen, J., "H.C. Örsted, Immanuel Kant and the Thought Experiment", Danish Yearbook of Philosophy, Vol.13, (1996), pp.48-65.
  • Jacques, V., Wu, E., Grosshans, F., Treussart, F., Grangier, P. Aspect, A., & Roch, J. (2007). Experimental Realization of Wheeler's Delayed-Choice Gedanken Experiment, Science, 315, p. 966-968. [3]

Nicholas Rescher (born July 15, 1928 in Hagen, Germany) is an American philosopher, affiliated for many years with the University of Pittsburgh, where he is currently University Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Center for the Philosophy of Science. ...

Books about thought experiments

  • Brown, J.R., The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences, Routledge, (London), 1993.
  • Browning, K.A. (ed.), Nowcasting, Academic Press, (London), 1982.
  • Cohen, Martin, "Wittgenstein's Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiments", Blackwell (Oxford) 2005
  • Cohnitz, D., Gedankenexperimente in der Philosophie, Mentis Publ., (Paderborn, Germany), 2006.
  • Craik, K.J.W., The Nature of Explanation, Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge), 1943.
  • Cushing, J.T., Philosophical Concepts in Physics: The Historical Relation Between Philosophy and Scientific Theories, Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge), 1998.
  • DePaul, M. & Ramsey, W. (eds.), Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role in Philosophical Inquiry, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, (Lanham), 1998.
  • Gendler, T.S., Thought Experiment: On the Powers and Limits of Imaginary Cases, Garland, (New York), 2000.
  • Gendler, T.S. & Hawthorne, J., Conceivability and Possibility, Oxford University Press, (Oxford), 2002.
  • Häggqvist, S., Thought Experiments in Philosophy, Almqvist & Wiksell International, (Stockholm), 1996.
  • Hanson, N.R., Patterns of Discovery: An Inquiry into the Conceptual Foundations of Science, Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge), 1962.
  • Harper, W.L., Stalnaker, R. & Pearce, G. (eds.), Ifs: Conditionals, Belief, Decision, Chance, and Time, D. Reidel Publishing Co., (Dordrecht), 1981.
  • Hesse, M.B., Models and Analogies in Science, Sheed and Ward, (London), 1963.
  • Holyoak, K.J. & Thagard, P., Mental Leaps: Analogy in Creative Thought, A Bradford Book, The MIT Press, (Cambridge), 1995.
  • Horowitz, T. & Massey, G.J. (eds.), Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy, Rowman & Littlefield, (Savage), 1991.
  • Kahn, H., Thinking About the Unthinkable, Discus Books, (New York), 1971.
  • Kuhne, U., Die Methode des Gedankenexperiments, Suhrkamp Publ., (Frankfurt/M, Germany), 2005.
  • Leatherdale, W.H., The Role of Analogy, Model and Metaphor in Science, North-Holland Publishing Company, (Amsterdam), 1974.
  • Roese, N.J. & Olson, J.M. (eds.), What Might Have Been: The Social Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, (Mahwah), 1995.
  • Shanks, N. (ed.), Idealization IX: Idealization in Contemporary Physics (Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Volume 63), Rodopi, (Amsterdam), 1998.
  • Shick, T. & Vaugn, L., Doing Philosophy: An Introduction through Thought Experiments (Second Edition), McGraw Hill, (New York), 2003.
  • Sorensen, R.A., Thought Experiments, Oxford University Press, (Oxford), 1992.
  • Tetlock, P.E. & Belkin, A. (eds.), Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics, Princeton University Press, (Princeton), 1996.
  • Thomson, J.J. {Parent, W. (ed.)}, Rights, Restitution, and Risks: Essays in Moral Theory, Harvard University Press, (Cambridge), 1986 .
  • Vosniadou, S. & Ortony. A. (eds.), Similarity and Analogical Reasoning, Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge), 1989.
  • Wilkes, K.V., Real People: Personal Identity without Thought Experiments, Oxford University Press, (Oxford), 1988.

See also

Alternate history (fiction) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... A counterfactual conditional (sometimes called a subjunctive conditional) is a logical conditional statement whose antecedent is (ordinarily) taken to be contrary to fact by those who utter it. ... Prediction of future events is an ancient human wish. ... Future studies reflects on how today’s changes (or the lack thereof) become tomorrow’s reality. ... Futurists use a diverse range of forecasting methods for futures studies including: // The Delphi method is a very popular technique used in Futures Studies. ... A Hindcast is a way of testing a model. ... Look up Hypothesis in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Irrealis moods are the set of grammatical moods that indicate that something is not actually the case. ... Conceptual metaphor: In cognitive linguistics, metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain; for example, using one persons life experience to understand a different persons experience. ... In philosophy and logic, the concept of possible worlds is used to express modal claims. ... Modern weather predictions aid in timely evacuations and potentially save lives and property damage Weather map of Europe, 10 December 1887 Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. ... In philosophy and logic, the concept of possible worlds is used to express modal claims. ... The West Wing, see Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc (The West Wing). ... Postdiction, post-shadowing, retroactive clairvoyance, and prediction after the fact are terms used by critics to refer to those who use hindsight to claim to have predicted a significant event such as a plane crash or natural disaster. ... A prediction is a statement or claim that a particular event will occur in the future in more certain terms than a forecast. ... Prognosis (older Greek πρόγνωσις, modern Greek πρόγνωση - literally fore-knowing, foreseeing) is a medical term denoting the doctors prediction of how a patients disease will progress, and whether there is chance of recovery. ... Retrodiction (or postdiction, though this should not be confused with the use of the term in criticisms of parapsychological research) is the act of making a prediction about the past. ... Scenario planning or Scenario thinking is a strategic planning method that some organizations use to make flexible long-term plans. ... A scenario test is a test based on a hypothetical story used to help a person think through a complex problem or system. ... In grammar, the subjunctive mood (sometimes referred to as the conjunctive mood) is a verb mood that exists in many languages. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Thought experiment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2447 words)
Thought experiment methodology is a priori, rather than empirical, in that it does not proceed by observation or experiment.
Thought experimentation is an a priori, rather than an empirical process, in that the experiments are conducted within the imagination (i.e., Brown’s (1993) "laboratory of the mind"), and never in fact.
Thought experiments have been used in philosophy, physics, and other fields (such as cognitive psychology, history, political science, economics, social psychology, law, organizational studies, marketing, and epidemiology).
Thought experiment - definition of Thought experiment in Encyclopedia (277 words)
In philosophy, physics, and other fields, a thought experiment (from the German Gedankenexperiment) is an attempt to solve a problem using the power of human imagination.
Thought experiments have been used to pose questions in philosophy at least since Greek antiquity; a famous example is Plato's cave, but others pre-date Socrates.
In physics and other sciences many famous thought experiments date from the nineteenth and especially the twentieth century, but examples can be found at least as early as Galileo.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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