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History and Philosophy of Scientific Thought Experiments and Scientific Practices

History and Philosophy of Scientific Thought Experiments and Scientific Practices

Objective

The project aims at providing a novel general theory of scientific thought experiments (TEs) and lies within the fields of general history and philosophy of science (HPS). TEs are epistemic tools, are conducted in the “laboratory of the mind” and are found in nearly all intellectual fields. Scientific TEs are puzzling to most philosophers: arguably TEs aim at providing “new” knowledge about the world, but without resorting to new empirical data. There is a vast literature on TEs, however, in its majority, remains “reductive” and “restrictive”, built on a-historically analysed case studies and is disconnected from the literature on real experiments (REs), scientific models (SMs) and computer simulations (CSs). The project is driven by a main hypothesis – TEs, in different scientific fields, should be analysed as a sui generis tool – and shall be divided into two objectives (O1 and O2): Towards a general theory of TEs (O1) and TEs vs REs, CSs and SMs (O2). Work on O1 shall built on a recent epistemic account of TEs in physics defended by El Skaf and on a new historical analysis of TEs in physics, biology and mathematics. Work on O2 shall consist of a comparative analysis of TEs, REs, CSs and SMs. The project thus relies on the scientific, historical, and philosophical methodology of integrated HPS. The project shall benefit from Werndl’s expertise in general philosophy of science and SMs, Weber’s expertise in general philosophy of science and experimentation in biology, including TEs, and El Skaf’s expertise in integrated HPS and the epistemology of TEs. Furthermore, we shall develop collaborations with researchers with a wide range of expertise, organise a series of seminars and an international workshop. Finally, this study, by providing a general theory of scientific TEs which identifies their common structure (i.e. their common reasoning pattern), will be applicable to TEs in several intellectual fields beyond natural sciences, where TEs are commonly used.
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Coordinator

PARIS-LODRON-UNIVERSITAT SALZBURG

Address

Kapitelgasse 4-6
5020 Salzburg

Austria

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 279 250,56

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 845008

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 May 2019

  • End date

    30 April 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 279 250,56

  • EU contribution

    € 279 250,56

Coordinated by:

PARIS-LODRON-UNIVERSITAT SALZBURG

Austria