The Function of Imagination in Thought Experiments
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis attempts to address this very question: how is the function of imagination in thought experiments to be understood? Its goal is to outline what imagination does when it is used as a guide to possibility in thought experiments and to sketch a picture of the problems that may be encountered. Working through a thought experiment, involves a process of self-interrogation that compels to reflect on our pre-existing knowledge. The experimenter is forced to make judgments on which basic assumptions he or she takes to be relevant to the phenomena under construction and to the process of working through a thought experiment. In doing so, one is compelled to judge which assumptions are relevant and how they apply to an imaginary scenario. Here, it can be argued that in most cases of mundane imaginative scenarios, people seem to be sufficiently successful in acquiring knowledge about the world using imagination. However, in more specialized cases that require specific knowledge, such as scientific thought experiments, even though the relevance of background knowledge is recognized, it is not always immediately obvious how to apply that knowledge to the imaginary scenario. In this light, imagination is an experimental space in which direct research is conducted and a conclusion is approached. The imaginary scenario provides an experimental phase of the thought experiment in advance of constructing it into its logical form.