(2016) Axiomathes 26 (4).

Norton and the logic of thought experiments

Michael T. Stuart

pp. 451-466

John D. Norton defends an empiricist epistemology of thought experiments, the central thesis of which is that thought experiments are nothing more than arguments. Philosophers have attempted to provide counterexamples to this claim, but they haven't convinced Norton. I will point out a more fundamental reason for reformulation that criticizes Norton's claim that a thought experiment is a good one when its underlying logical form possesses certain desirable properties. I argue that by Norton's empiricist standards, no thought experiment is ever justified in any deep sense due to the properties of its logical form. Instead, empiricists should consider again the merits of evaluating thought experiments more like laboratory experiments, and less like arguments.

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Stuart, M. T. (2016). Norton and the logic of thought experiments. Axiomathes 26 (4), pp. 451-466.

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