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Why Thought Experiments Are Not Arguments

Michael A. Bishop
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 66, No. 4 (Dec., 1999), pp. 534-541
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/188748
Page Count: 8
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Why Thought Experiments Are Not Arguments
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Abstract

Are thought experiments nothing but arguments? I argue that it is not possible to make sense of the historical trajectory of certain thought experiments if one takes them to be arguments. Einstein and Bohr disagreed about the outcome of the clock-in-the-box thought experiment, and so they reconstructed it using different arguments. This is to be expected whenever scientists disagree about a thought experiment's outcome. Since any such episode consists of two arguments but just one thought experiment, the thought experiment cannot be the arguments.

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