Il s'agit de s'interroger sur l'usage et l'utilité des expériences de pensée en science et en philosophie. Qu'est-ce qui la distingue d'une expérimentation ?
Grenoble, 12-14 June 2008
Editorial meeting organized in
the framework of the ESF
Programme «From Natural
Philosophy to Science»
Thought experiments are central to
contemporary philosophy and science.
The recent literature on them raises
the following questions:
What is their definition?
Are they heuristic devices, arguments,
or paradoxes? Are they comparable
to real experiments? Do intuition
and conceivability intervene?
Focusing on prime historical
examples of thought experiments
found in ancient, medieval,
and Renaissance texts, we will
show that historical perspectives help
answer these general questions.
• The success of the category of
thought experiments has gone hand
in hand with doubts about its extension,
its consistence and its limits: the
contributions of Engel, Goffi-Roux,
Virvidakis and Zeimbekis will
discuss these kinds of doubts.
• All thought experiments start
from counterfactual suppositions:
Ierodiakonou and Knuuttila-
Kukkonen will adress the questions of
what kind of logic, epistemology,
and metaphysics are necessary
to account for thought experiments.
• The category of thought
experiments was explicitly
constituted only during the twentieth
century, but, as Lautner, Grellard,
and Palmerino will show, it is useful
to use it retrospectively in order
to have a better understanding
of earlier texts.