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The Rules of Thought$
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Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa and Benjamin W. Jarvis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199661800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661800.001.0001

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The Content of Thought-Experiment Judgments

The Content of Thought-Experiment Judgments

Chapter:
(p.198) 8 The Content of Thought-Experiment Judgments
Source:
The Rules of Thought
Author(s):

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa

Benjamin W. Jarvis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661800.003.0009

This chapter concerns the standard philosophical methodology of using thought-experiments for purposes of argumentation; in particular, what are the contents of the judgments that are responsive to such thought-experiments? Timothy Williamson has argued that these contents are best understood as counterfactuals about what would be true were the conditions of the thought-experiment met. It is contended, pace Williamson, that these contents are better understood as ascriptions of necessity about what must be true in certain conditions—conditions that are fixed to be the same conditions of the thought-experiment. This latter option is available because the conditions of the thought-experiment can include specifications that, while true in the fiction of the thought-experiment, are not explicitly given in the literal text of the thought-experiment. The approach to thought-experiments as fictions is defended against two recent objections from Anna-Sara Malmgren.

Keywords:   thought-experiments, Timothy Williamson, counterfactual judgments, truth in fiction, fiction, philosophical methodology, Anna-Sara Malmgren

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