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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 1, 2018
On Thought Experiments

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on thought experiments
1. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Nenad Miščević Introduction
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2. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Margherita Arcangeli The Hidden Links between Real, Thought and Numerical Experiments
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The scientist’s toolkit counts at least three practices: real, thought and numerical experiments. Although a deep investigation of the relationships between these types of experiments should shed light on the nature of scientific enquiry, I argue that it has been compromised by at least four factors: (i) a bias for the epistemological superiority of real experiments; (ii) an almost exclusive focus on the links between either thought or numerical experiments, and real experiments; (iii) a tendency to try and reduce one kind to another; and (iv) an excessive attention to the outputs of these types of experiments, more than to their processes. In this paper I support an unbiased triangular comparative analysis that focuses on the processes involved in real, thought and numerical experiments, and claim that all three types of experimentation are fundamental to scientific research. I do so by clarifying different notions of experimental processes, and by introducing a distinction between two varieties of mental simulation that play a role in them (i.e., mental models and imaginings). I then compare real, thought and numerical experiments in light of this distinction, showing their similarities, but also fundamental differences, which suggest that none of them is dispensable.
3. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Majda Trobok The Mathematics-Natural Sciences Analogy and the Underlying Logic: The Road through Thought Experiments and Related Methods
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The aim of this paper is to point to the analogy between mathematical and physical thought experiments, and even more widely between the epistemic paths in both domains. Having accepted platonism as the underlying ontology as long as the platonistic path in asserting the possibility of gaining knowledge of abstract, mind-independent and causally inert objects, my widely taken goal is to show that there is no need to insist on the uniformity of picture and monopoly of certain epistemic paths in the epistemic descriptive context. And secondly, to show the analogy with the ways we come to know the truths of (natural) sciences.
4. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Rawad el Skaf The Function and Limit of Galileo’s Falling Bodies Thought Experiment: Absolute Weight, Specifi c Weight and the Medium’s Resistance
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The ongoing epistemological debate on scientific thought experiments (TEs) revolves, in part, around the now famous Galileo’s falling bodies TE and how it could justify its conclusions. In this paper, I argue that the TE’s function is misrepresented in this a-historical debate. I retrace the history of this TE and show that it constituted the first step in two general “argumentative strategies”, excogitated by Galileo to defend two different theories of free-fall, in 1590’s and then in the 1638. I analyse both argumentative strategies and argue that their function was to eliminate potential causal factors: the TE serving to eliminate absolute weight as a causal factor, while the subsequent arguments served to explore the effect of specific weight, with conflicting conclusions in 1590 and 1638. I will argue thorough the paper that the TE is best grasped when we analyse Galileo’s restriction, in the TE’s scenario and conclusion, to bodies of the same material or specific weight. Finally, I will draw out two implications for the debate on TEs.
5. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
François Kammerer Is the Antipathetic Fallacy Responsible for the Intuition that Consciousness is Distinct from the Physical?
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Numerous philosophers have recently tried to defend physicalism regarding phenomenal consciousness against dualist intuitions, by explaining the existence of dualist intuitions within a purely physicalist framework. David Papineau, for example, suggested that certain peculiar features of some of our concepts of phenomenal experiences (the so-called “phenomenal concepts”) led us to commit what he called the “Antipathetic Fallacy”: they gave us the erroneous impression that phenomenal experiences must be distinct from purely physical states (the “intuition of distinctness”), even though they are not. Papineau’s hypothesis has been accepted, though under other names and in different forms, by many physicalist philosophers. Pär Sundström has tried to argue against Papineau’s account of the intuition of distinctness by showing that it was subjected to counterexamples. However, Papineau managed to show that Sundström’s counterexamples were not compelling, and that they could be answered within his framework. In this paper, I want to draw inspiration from Sundström, and to put forth some refined counterexamples to Papineau’s account, which cannot be answered in the same way as Sundström’s. My conclusion is that we cannot explain the intuition of distinctness as the result of a kind of “Antipathetic Fallacy”.
6. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Erhan Demircioğlu On Understanding a Theory on Conscious Experiences
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McGinn claims, among other things, that we cannot understand the theory that explains how echolocationary experiences arise from the bat’s brain. One of McGinn’s arguments for this claim appeals to the fact that we cannot know in principle what it is like to have echolocationary experiences. According to Kirk, McGinn’s argument fails because it rests on an illegitimate assumption concerning what explanatory theories are supposed to accomplish. However, I will argue that Kirk’s objection misfires because he misapprehends McGinn’s argument. Further, I will articulate and briefly assess some ways in which McGinn’s argument can be blocked.
7. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Daniel Dohrn ‘Mais la fantaisie est-elle un privilège des seuls poètes?’: Schlick on a ‘Sinn kriterium’ for Thought Experiments
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Ever since the term ‘thought experiment’ was coined by Ørsted, philosophers have struggled with the question of how thought experiments manage to provide knowledge. Ernst Mach’s seminal contribution has eclipsed other approaches in the Austrian tradition. I discuss one of these neglected approaches. Faced with the challenge of how to reconcile his empiricist position with his use of thought experiments, Moritz Schlick proposed the following ‘Sinnkriterium’: a thought experiment is meaningful if it allows to answer a question under discussion by imagining the experiences that would confi rm that the thought experimental scenario is actual. I trace this view throughout three exemplary thought experiments of Schlick’s.
8. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Miomir Matulović Thought Experiments in the Theory of Law: The Imaginary Scenarios in Hart’s The Concept of Law
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H. L. A. Hart’s The Concept of Law is an important and infl uential work in the modern philosophy and theory of law. In it, Hart introduced and discussed three imaginary scenarios: the absolute monarchy under the Rex dynasty; the pre-legal society governed by primary rules of obligation; and the worlds in which rules would be different from those in our actual world. Although Hart did not use the expression “thought experiments” in his work, some of his interpreters refer to the imaginary scenarios as thought experiments. However, interpreters do not go into the question of whether the imaginary scenarios in Hart’s work do indeed satisfy a general characterization of thought experiments. In this article, the author fi rst summarizes the three imaginary scenarios in Hart’s work and points to the context within which we encounter each of them. Then, he makes use of a general characterization of thought experiments in the contemporary philosophical literature and briefl y examines the way and the extent to which the imaginary scenarios in Hart’s work can satisfy its requirements.
9. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Hossein Dabbagh Intuiting Intuition: The Seeming Account of Moral Intuition
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In this paper, I introduce and elucidate what seems to me the best understanding of moral intuition with reference to the intellectual seeming account. First, I will explain Bengson’s (and Bealer’s) quasi-perceptualist account of philosophical intuition in terms of intellectual seeming. I then shift from philosophical intuition to moral intuition and will delineate Audi’s doxastic account of moral intuition to argue that the intellectual seeming account of intuition is superior to the doxastic account of intuition. Next, I argue that we can apply our understanding of the intellectual seeming account of philosophical intuition to the moral intuition. To the extent that we can argue for the intellectual seeming account of philosophical intuition, we can have the intellectual seeming account of moral intuition.
10. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Friderik Klampfer Moral Thought-Experiments, Intuitions, and Heuristics
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Philosophical thought-experimentation has a long and influential history. In recent years, however, both the traditionally secure place of the method of thought experimentation in philosophy and its presumed epistemic credentials have been increasingly and repeatedly questioned. In the paper, I join the choir of the discontents. I present and discuss two types of evidence that in my opinion undermine our close-to-blind trust in moral thought experiments and the intuitions that these elicit: the disappointing record of thought-experimentation in contemporary moral philosophy, and the more general considerations explaining why this failure is not accidental. The diagnosis is not optimistic. The past record of moral TEs is far from impressive. Most, if not all, moral TEs fail to corroborate their target moral hypotheses (provided one can determine what results they produced and what moral proposition these results were supposed to verify or falsify). Moral intuitions appear to be produced by moral heuristics which we have every reason to suspect will systematically misfi re in typical moral TEs. Rather than keep relying on moral TEs, we should therefore begin to explore other, more sound alternatives to thought-experimentation in moral philosophy.
11. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Nenad Miščević Simulation and Thought Experiments: The Example of Contractualism
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The paper investigates some mechanisms of thought-experimenting, and explores the role of perspective taking, in particular of mental simulation, in political thought-experiments, focusing for the most part on contractualist ones. It thus brings together two blossoming traditions: the study of perspective taking and methodology of thought-experiments. How do contractualist thought-experiments work? Our moderately inflationist mental modelling proposal is that they mobilize our imaginative capacity for perspective taking, most probably perspective taking through simulation. The framework suggests the answers to questions that are often raised for other kinds of thought-experiments as well, concerning their source of data, heuristic superiority to deduction, experiential, qualitative character and ease in eliminating alternatives. In the case of contractualist political thought-experiments, the data come from perspective taking and the capacity to simulate. Mental simulation is way more accessible to subjects than abstract political reasoning from principles and facts. There is a new experience for the subject, the one of simulating. Simulation normally is quick and effortless; the simulator does not go through alternatives, but is constrained in an unconscious way. We distinguish two kinds of political thought-experiments and two manners of imagining political arrangements, building third-person mental models, and fi rst-person perspective taking. The two mechanisms, the fi rst of inductive model building, the second for simulation, and their combination(s), exhaust the range of cognitive mechanism underlying political thought-experimenting.
book discussions
12. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Ana Butković The ‘Arguments Instead of Intuitions’ Account of Thought Experiments: Discussion of The Myth of the Intuitive by Max Deutsch
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After decades of receiving a lot of attention on the epistemological level, the so-called ‘problem of intuitions’ is now in the center of debates on the metaphilosophical level. One of the reasons for this lies in the unfruitfulness of the epistemological discussions that recently subsided without producing any significant or broadly accepted theory of intuitions. Consequently, the metaphilosophical level of discussion of the ‘problem of intuitions’ inherits the same difficulties of the epistemological level. The significance of Max Deutsch’s book The Myth of the Intuitive is his effort to resolve these problems in a clear and persuasive way. He is not only trying to debunk problems behind the vagueness of the ‘intuition-talk’ by drawing important distinctions that usually go under the radar in the contemporary literature, but also develops his own account of philosophical methodology. In this paper I will present some of his arguments against the traditional view of intuitional methodology, as well as his own solutions to the presented problems. Regardless of Deutsch’s insightful account of the ‘problem of intuitions’, I find that some difficulties in his own proposal are inherited from the unresolved issues of intuitions on the epistemological level.
13. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Danilo Šuster “The Brain in Vat” at the Intersection
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Goldberg 2016 is a collection of papers dedicated to Putnam’s (1981) brain in a vat (‘BIV’) scenario. The collection divides into three parts, though the issues are inter-connected. Putnam uses conceptual tools from philosophy of language in order to establish theses in epistemology and metaphysics. Putnam’s BIV is considered a contemporary version of Descartes’s skeptical argument of the Evil Genius, but I argue that deception (the possibility of having massively false belief) is not essential, externalism does all the anti-skeptical work. The largest section in the collection covers Putnam’s model-theoretic argument (MTA) against metaphysical realism (MR) and its connections with the brain in vat argument (BVA). There are two camps—unifiers (there is a deep connection in Putnam’s thoughts on BVA, MTA and MR) and patchwork theorists and I try to provide some support for the second camp. All of the papers in the collection are discussed and the anti-skeptical potential of BVA is critically assessed.
book reviews
14. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Mia Biturajac The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments
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15. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Tomislav Miletić The Myth of the Moral Brain. The Limits of Moral Enhancement
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16. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Nenad Miščević Knowledge Through Imagination
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17. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Davor Pećnjak Thought Experiments between Nature and Society: A Festschrift for Nenad Miščević
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18. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Marko Delić Perspectives on the Self
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