Bringing thought experiments back into the philosophy of science

Arnon Levy, Adrian Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To a large extent, the evidential base of claims in the philosophy of science has switched from thought experiments to case studies. We argue that abandoning thought experiments was a wrong turn, since they can effectively complement case studies. We make our argument via an analogy with the relationship between experiments and observations within science. Just as experiments and ‘natural’ observations can together evidence claims in science, each mitigating the downsides of the other, so too can thought experiments and case studies be mutually supporting. After presenting the main argument, we look at potential concerns about thought experiments, suggesting that a judiciously applied mixed-methods approach can overcome them.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science
StatePublished - Jun 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Bringing thought experiments back into the philosophy of science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this