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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 49, Issue 3, 2016

Vladimir Filatov
Pages 17-27

Thought Experiments and a priori Knowledge

Thought experiments are traditionally associated with physics. In this science we can find a lot of wonderful examples of this method, especially in periods of scientific revolutions. But in the last decade in physics thought experiments are becoming increasingly rare, but in the social sciences and philosophy, they are widely used. What gives thought experiments, what is their value for scientific knowledge? Is it possible to use them to obtain new knowledge or they are just visual or paradoxical illustrations of any problems? The key issue, which I propose to discuss is the possibility to get with the help of thought experiments a priori knowledge. I will try to prove that it was impossible, that thought experiments have other functions in cognition.

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