From Lucretius throwing a spear beyond the boundary of the universe to Einstein racing against a beam of light, thought experiments stand as a fascinating challenge to the necessity of data in the empirical sciences. Are these experiments, conducted uniquely in our imagination, simply rhetorical devices or communication tools or are they an essential part of scientific practice? This volume surveys the current state of the debate and explores new avenues of research into the epistemology of thought experiments.
Introduction Mélanie Frappier, Letitia Meynell, and James Robert Brown 1. Thought Experiment and the Exercise of Imagination in Science James W. McAllister 2. Veridical Idealizations Roy Sorensen 3. What Do We See in a Thought Experiment? James Robert Brown 4.The Body, Thought Experiments, and Phenomenology Yiftach Fehige and Harald Wiltsche 5. Thought Experiments from a Kantian Point of View Marco Buzzoni 6. Can Thought Experiments Be Resolved by Experiment? The Case of Aristotle’s Wheel Richard T. W. Arthur 7. Chasing the Light: Einstein’s Most Famous Thought Experiment John D. Norton 8. At the Limits of Possibility: Thought Experiments in Quantum Gravity Mark Shumelda 9. Craig Venter’s New Life: the Realization of Some Thought Experiments in Biological Ontology W. Ford Doolittle 10. Genealogical Thought Experiments in Economics Julian Reiss 11. Political Thought Experiments from Plato to Rawls Nenad Miščević 12. Thought Experiment, Definition, and Literary Fiction Geordie McComb 13. Can Philosophical Thought Experiments Be ‘Screened’? David Davies 14. Computational Modeling: Is This the End of Thought Experiments in Science? Sanjay Chandrasekharan, Nancy J. Nersessian, and Vrishali Subramanian