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The Dynamics of Thought Experiments - Comment to Atkinson

Stöltzner, Michael (2001) The Dynamics of Thought Experiments - Comment to Atkinson. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    Commenting on Atkinson's paper I argue that leading to a successful real experiment is not the only scale on which a thought experiment's value is judged. Even the path from the original EPR thought experiment to Aspect's verification of the Bell inequalities was long-winded and involved considerable input from the sides of technology and mathematics. Von Neumann's construction of hidden variables was, moreover, a genuinely mathematical thought experiment that was successfully criticized by Bell. Such thought experiments are also possible in string theory, where any (non-trivial) empirical corroboration seems to be out of reach. Yet appraising mathematical thought experiments and their contribution to physical thought experiments requires a dynamical account which in the spirit of Mach and Lakatos attributes due weight to informal mathematical reasoning or empirical intuition.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: Thought Experiment, EPR-paradox, Bell inequalities, string theory, Galileo, John von Neumann, Imre Lakatos, Ernst Mach
    Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
    General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
    Depositing User: Michael Stoeltzner
    Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2002
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:10
    Item ID: 626
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/626

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