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The step to rationality : The efficacy of thought experiments in science, ethics, and free will

By Roger N. Shepard


Examples from Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and others suggest that fundamental laws of physics were—or, at least, could have been—discovered by experiments performed not in the physical world but only in the mind. Although problematic for a strict empiricist, the evolutionary emergence in humans of deeply internalized implicit knowledge of abstract principles of transformation and symmetry may have been crucial for humankind’s step to rationality—including the discovery of universal principles of mathematics, physics, ethics, and an account of free will that is compatible with determinism

Topics: Thought experiments, Physical laws, Imagined transformations, Mental rotation, Symmetry, Rationality, Moral laws, The Golden Rule, Determinism, Agency, Free will
Year: 2008
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