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Georgiou 2005 Thought Experiments

Georgiou 2005 Thought Experiments

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Published by Andreas Georgiou
DEAR READER, please cite this work appropriately if you decide to use it in your own work.
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MPhil Thesis Educational Research (University of Cambridge, 2005)

This study is part of a larger research agenda, which includes future doctoral study, aiming to investigate the psychological processes of thought experiments. How do thought-experimenters establish relations between their imaginary worlds and the physical one? How does a technique devoid of new sensory input result to new empirical knowledge? In this study I investigate the following claims as possible answers: that intuition grounds the behaviour of an imaginary scenario in the experienced world; and that imagistic simulation provides the thought-experimenter with a quasi-perceptual analogue to direct perception through which they acquire novel empirical knowledge. Case methodology was adopted, the case being a pair of final year A-level physics students. Data was collected through non-participant observation over two sessions of collaborative problem-solving. The tasks drew upon Newtonian mechanics. A certain type of thought-experimental reasoning prevailed in the observation protocol. These thought experiments do not aim to induce unexpected results but to make intuitions about a situation experiencable in a concrete (imaginary) scenario. I interpret thought experiments of this type as a mental analogue to inductive discovery through physical experiment. A critical question for future research is whether all thought-experimental reasoning in general emulates physical experimentation, as the answer will potentially provide insights for exploring thought experimenting as an educable skill.
DEAR READER, please cite this work appropriately if you decide to use it in your own work.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MPhil Thesis Educational Research (University of Cambridge, 2005)

This study is part of a larger research agenda, which includes future doctoral study, aiming to investigate the psychological processes of thought experiments. How do thought-experimenters establish relations between their imaginary worlds and the physical one? How does a technique devoid of new sensory input result to new empirical knowledge? In this study I investigate the following claims as possible answers: that intuition grounds the behaviour of an imaginary scenario in the experienced world; and that imagistic simulation provides the thought-experimenter with a quasi-perceptual analogue to direct perception through which they acquire novel empirical knowledge. Case methodology was adopted, the case being a pair of final year A-level physics students. Data was collected through non-participant observation over two sessions of collaborative problem-solving. The tasks drew upon Newtonian mechanics. A certain type of thought-experimental reasoning prevailed in the observation protocol. These thought experiments do not aim to induce unexpected results but to make intuitions about a situation experiencable in a concrete (imaginary) scenario. I interpret thought experiments of this type as a mental analogue to inductive discovery through physical experiment. A critical question for future research is whether all thought-experimental reasoning in general emulates physical experimentation, as the answer will potentially provide insights for exploring thought experimenting as an educable skill.

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Published by: Andreas Georgiou on Jan 23, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/31/2012

 
 
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