The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Laboratory of the Mind

Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences, 2nd Edition

By James Robert Brown


230 pages

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Paperback: 9780415996532
pub: 2010-07-27
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Newton's bucket, Einstein's elevator, Schrödinger's cat – these are some of the best-known examples of thought experiments in the natural sciences. But what function do these experiments perform? Are they really experiments at all? Can they help us gain a greater understanding of the natural world? How is it possible that we can learn new things just by thinking?

In this revised and updated new edition of his classic text The Laboratory of the Mind, James Robert Brown continues to defend apriorism in the physical world. This edition features two new chapters, one on “counter thought experiments” and another on the development of inertial motion. With plenty of illustrations and updated coverage of the debate between Platonic rationalism and classic empiricism, this is a lively and engaging contribution to the field of philosophy of science.


"If thought experiments have extraordinary powers, then they need an extraordinary epistemology. This book is the only serious attempt to provide it."John Norton, University of Pittsburgh

Praise for the first edition:

"Cogent, lively, enthusiastic … A wonderfully stimultating book, highly rcommended"


"I recommend this book to anybody interested in the philosophy of science…a fascinating compendium of these testaments to scientific genius."David Papineau, Times Higher Education Supplement

About the Author

James Robert Brown is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Epistemology
SCIENCE / Philosophy & Social Aspects