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VII—Internal and External Validity in Thought Experiments

Wilson, J; (2016) VII—Internal and External Validity in Thought Experiments. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society , 116 (2) pp. 127-152. 10.1093/arisoc/aow008. Green open access

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This paper develops an account of rigour in the use of thought experiments in ethics. I argue that there are two separate challenges to be faced. The first is internal validity: is the thought experiment designed in a way that allows its readers to make judgements that are confident and free of bias about the hypothesis or point of principle that it aims to test? The second is external validity: to what extent do ethical judgements that are correct of the world of the thought experiment generalise to a wide variety of other contexts, including ethical decisionmaking in the actual world? Ensuring external validity is the harder and more important problem of rigour, yet it is one that few philosophers have even noticed, let alone begun to solve.

Type: Article
Title: VII—Internal and External Validity in Thought Experiments
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/arisoc/aow008
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/arisoc/aow008
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475604
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