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Telling Stories in Science: Feyerabend and Thought Experiments

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author StuartMichael,
Project Imagination in Science: What is it, how do we learn from it, and how can we improve it?
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science
Volume (Issue) 10(2)
Title of proceedings HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science

Abstract

The history of the philosophy of thought experiments has touched on the work of Kuhn, Popper, Duhem, Mach, Lakatos, and other big names of the 20th century, but so far, almost nothing has been written about Paul Feyerabend. His most influential work was Against Method, 8 chapters of which concern a case study of Galileo with a specific focus on Galileo’s thought experiments. In addition, the later Feyerabend was very interested in what might be called the epistemology of drama, including stories and myths. This paper brings these different aspects of Feyerabend’s work together in an attempt to present what might have been his considered views on scientific thought experiments. I conclude by contrasting Feyerabend’s ideas with two modern currents in the debate surrounding thought experiments: 1) the claim that the epistemology of thought experiments is just the epistemology of deductive or inductive arguments, and 2) the claim that the specifically narrative quality of thought experiments must be taken into account if we want a complete epistemology of thought experiments.
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