A Way to Describe and Evaluate Thought Experiments, or Trying to Get a Grip on Virtual Reality

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Souder, Lawrence G
Arts and Humanities; Philosophy
paper description
The use of thought experiments seems to provoke much controversy, often in the form of charges of appeals to intuition. The notion of intuition, however, is vaguely defined in both the context of thought experiments and in philosophy in general. This vagueness suggests that the description of thought experiments is incomplete, and thus the prospect for their evaluation remains unfulfilled. Previous analyses of thought experiments have come largely from philosophy where the focus has been on truth value and validity. But these approaches seem to view argument monologically; no accommodation of an audience response like intuition is possible. I try to show that van Eemeren and Grootendorst's pragma-dialectical model provides a framework for analyzing thought experiments and evaluating them because it treats thought experiments as part of a dialogue and as the result of a perspective.