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Johannes Lenhard
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conference paper description
Both thought experiments and simulation experiments apparently belong to the family of experiments, though they are somewhat special members because they work without intervention into the natural world. Instead they explore hypothetical worlds. For this reason many have wondered whether referring to them as “experiments” is justified at all. While most authors are concerned with only one type of “imagined” experiment – either simulation or thought experiment – the present chapter hopes to gain new insight by considering what the two types of experiment share, and what they do not. A close look reveals at least one fundamental methodological difference between thought and simulation experiments: while thought experiments are a cognitive process that employs intuition, simulation experiments rest on automated iterations of formal algorithms. It will be argued that this difference has important epistemological ramifications.

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