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La structure des expériences de pensée scientifiques

Abstract : In this philosophy dissertation we will analyze scientific thought experiments (TE). It is divided into three parts: In Part I, we examine seven TE : Galileo’s Pisa tower, Maxwell’s demon, Einstein’s photon box (and Bohr’s reply), Schrödinger’s cat, Einstein’s elevator, Langevin twins and Newton’s canon ball. We will mainly rely on each author’s original text to show the use made of each TE by each scientist. That is we aim to show the function of each TE. We will propose a classification based on two functions: refutational and exploratory. In Part II, we examine the current epistemic debate on TE, mainly opposing John D. Norton and James Robert Brown. This debate revolves around Brown’s analysis of Galileo Pisa tower TE. We will thus retrace the history of this TE to show its true function for Galileo. This will lead us to refute Brown’s approach and underline some problems in Norton’s. In Part III, we briefly examine the other approaches in this debate and show that their accounts are too restrictive, especially on the notion of possibility admitted in a successful scientific TE. We will thus analyze the different notions of possibility we find in the scenarios of TE. This will lead us to propose a novel non-reductive approach to scientific TE, which takes into account these different notions of possibility, and is based on a common general structure, capable of evaluating TE as an autonomous scientific tool by offering a proper justificatory method.
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Rawad El Skaf. La structure des expériences de pensée scientifiques. Philosophie. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016PA01H232⟩. ⟨tel-02529048⟩

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