Reconstructing Thought Experiments in Personal Identity
Nielsen (Lasse)
Source: Philosophia: Czech and Slovak Journal of Humanities, 2018
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Thought experiments are abundant in the topic of personal identity theory as well as in metaphysics in general. While many of them serve to illustrate and guide us through complicated theories and explain difficult to grasp terms, others are irrelevant and muddle the very discussion they aim to clarify.
  2. By building upon the work of John D. Norton and Kathleen Wilkes, this paper sets out to establish a formula for a good thought experiment.
  3. The paper outlines Norton’s theory that all thought experiments can be reconstructed into arguments. His work in this subject refers mainly to thought experiments in science, but the aim of this paper will be to apply his theory of reconstruction to thought experiments in metaphysics.
  4. Along with Norton, the work of Kathleen V. Wilkes and her critique of fission thought experiments will likewise be taken into consideration.
  5. The paper concludes that for a thought experiment to be successful it must make sense as an argument, after the impossibilities have been eliminated.


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