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

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

by James Robert Brown
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0415095794

ISBN-13: 9780415095792

Pub. Date: 05/21/1993

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

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

Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780415095792
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
05/21/1993
Series:
Philosophical Issues in Science Series
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.43(d)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments vi

Preface (to the second edition) ix

1 Illustrations from the laboratory of the mind 1

2 The structure of thought experiments 32

3 Counter thought experiments 48

4 Mathematical thinking 67

5 Seeing the laws of nature 98

6 The development of inertial motion 125

7 Einstein's brand of verificationism 152

8 Quantum mechanics: a Platonic interpretation 176

Afterword 201

Notes 205

Bibliography 210

Index 223

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