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Putting the experiment back into the thought experiment

Sartori, Lorenzo ORCID: 0000-0002-8457-7100 (2023) Putting the experiment back into the thought experiment. Synthese, 201 (2). ISSN 1573-0964

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11229-022-04011-3


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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2022 16:18
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2024 22:36

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