1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments

    582 Pages
    by Routledge

    582 Pages
    by Routledge

    Thought experiments are a means of imaginative reasoning that lie at the heart of philosophy, from the pre-Socratics to the modern era, and they also play central roles in a range of fields, from physics to politics. The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments is an invaluable guide and reference source to this multifaceted subject. Comprising over 30 chapters by a team of international contributors, the Companion covers the following important areas:

    · the history of thought experiments, from antiquity to the trolley problem and quantum non-locality;

    · thought experiments in the humanities, arts, and sciences, including ethics, physics, theology, biology, mathematics, economics, and politics;

    · theories about the nature of thought experiments;

    · new discussions concerning the impact of experimental philosophy, cross-cultural comparison studies, metaphilosophy, computer simulations, idealization, dialectics, cognitive science, the artistic nature of thought experiments, and metaphysical issues.

    This broad ranging Companion goes backwards through history and sideways across disciplines. It also engages with philosophical perspectives from empiricism, rationalism, naturalism, skepticism, pluralism, contextualism, and neo-Kantianism to phenomenology. This volume will be valuable for anyone studying the methods of philosophy or any discipline that employs thought experiments, as well as anyone interested in the power and limits of the mind.


    1. Thought Experiments: State of the Art – Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige and James Robert Brown

    2. Part One: Selected History of Thought Experiments

    3. The Triple Life of Ancient Thought Experiments – Katerina Ierodiakonou

    4. Thought Experiments in Plato – Alexander Becker

    5. Aristotle and Thought Experiments – Klaus Corcilius

    6. Experimental Thoughts on Thought Experiments in Medieval Islam – Jon McGinnis

    7. Galileo's Thought Experiments: Projective Participation and the Integration of Paradoxes – Paolo Palmieri

    8. Thought Experiments in Newton and Leibniz – Richard T. W. Arthur

    9. Kant, Hegel and Wittgenstein: Thought Experiments, Epistemology and Our Cognitive (In)Capacities – Kenneth R. Westphal

    10. Part Two: Thought Experiments and their Fields

    11. Thought Experiments in Political Philosophy – Nenad Miščević

    12. Thought Experiments in Economics – Margaret Schabas

    13. Theology and Thought Experiments – Yiftach Fehige

    14. Thought Experiments in Ethics – George Brun

    15. Happiest Thoughts: Great Thought Experiments of Modern Physics – Kent A. Peacock

    16. Thought Experiments in Biology – Guillaume Schlaepfer and Marcel Weber

    17. Thought Experiments in Mathematics – Irina Starikova and Marcus Giaquinto

    18. Part Three: Contemporary Philosophical Approaches to Thought Experiments

    19. The Argument View: Are Thought Experiments Mere Picturesque Arguments? – Elke Brendel

    20. Platonism and the A Priori in Thought Experiments – Thomas Grundmann

    21. Cognitive Science, Mental Modeling, and Thought Experiments – Nancy J. Nersessian

    22. Kantian Accounts of Thought Experiments – Marco Buzzoni

    23. Phenomenology and Thought Experiments: Thought Experiments as Anticipation Pumps – Harald A. Wiltsche

    24. Part Four: Issues, Challenges and Interactions

    25. Intuition and Its Critics – Stephen Stich and Kevin Tobia

    26. Thought Experiments and Experimental Philosophy – Kirk Ludwig

    27. Thought Experiments in Current Metaphilosophical Debates – Daniel Cohnitz and Sören Häggqvist

    28. Historicism and Cross-Culture Comparison – James W. McAllister

    29. A Dialectical Account of Thought Experiments – Jean-Yves Goffi and Sophie Roux

    30. The Worst Thought Experiment – John D. Norton

    31. Thought Experiments and Idealizations – Julian Reiss

    32. Thought Experiments and Simulation Experiments: Exploring Hypothetical Worlds – Johannes Lenhard

    33. Images and Imagination in Thought Experiments – Letitia Meynell


    Michael T. Stuart is a fellow of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics, UK.

    Yiftach Fehige is Associate Professor at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, Canada.

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