USS-SWC 2018 – Thought Experiments

The 18th Vienna Summer University was held on July 2–13, 2018.


  • Elke Brendel (University of Bonn)
  • James Robert Brown (University of Toronto)
  • John D. Norton (University of Pittsburgh)
  • Guest lecturer: Mauricio Suárez (Complutense University of Madrid)

Are thought experiments epistemic miracles that enable us to learn about the world merely by reflections from the comfort of our armchairs? Or are they merely picturesque devices for clarifying and revealing to us what we already knew? Or should we conceive of their role in some other way? This summer school examined thought experiments and their role in science and philosophy. It considered general problems of principle concerning thought experiments as well as the place and function of exemplar thought experiments largely drawn from physical sciences, but from philosophy and mathematics, as well.


  • Typology of thought experiments
  • Function of thought experiments
  • Epistemology of thought experiments
  • The content and utility of particular thought experiments