PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Galileo on the Power and Limits of Thought Experiments

Galileo is often celebrated by philosophers of science for having formulated very successful thought experiments. What is less known, however, is that Galileo’s writings contain very interesting considerations on the power and limits of counterfactual reasoning. I shall analyze the methodological reflections which accompany Galileo’s thought experiments, as well as the arguments he uses to reject thought experiments formulated by scholastic philosophers. As I shall show, Galileo rejects thought experiments invoking God’s absolute power by means of arguments that resemble those recently used by Nicholas Rescher, Kathleen Wilkes, and others to criticize the outlandish scenarios invoked by contemporary analytic philosophers.

Author Information:

Carla Rita Palmerino    
Center for the History of Philosophy and Science
Radboud University, Nijmegen (The Netherlands)


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