The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences

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Psychology Press, 1993 - Science - 175 pages
An investigation into the philosophical implications of thought experiments in science. Brown provides a fascinating account of some of the most influential thought experiments in the history of science.Thought experiments are performed in the laboratory of the mind. Beyond this metaphor it is difficult to say just what these remarkable devices for investigating nature are or how they work. Though most scientists and philosophers would admit their great importance, there has been very little serious study of them. This volume is the first book-length investigation of thought experiments.Starting with Galileo's argument on falling bodies, Brown describes numerous examples of the most influential thought experiments from the history of science. Following this introduction to the subject, some substantial and provocative claims are made, the principle being that some thought experiments should be understood in the same way that platonists understand mathematical activity: as an intellectual grasp of an independently existing abstract realm.With its clarity of style and structure, The Laboratory of the Mind will find readers among all philosophers of science as well as scientists who have puzzled over how thought experiments work.
 

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Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements viji
6
THE STRUCTURE OF THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS
33
SEEING THE LAWS OF NATURE
76
EINSTEINS BRAND OF VERIFICATIONISM
99
A PLATONIC
126
Afterword
155
Index
173
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