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Tony Milligan



Thought Experiments and Novels

Issue: 8:1 (The twenty nineth issue)
Novels and thought experiments can be pathways to different kinds of
knowledge. We may, however, be hard pressed to say exactly what can be
learned from novels but not from thought experiments. Headway on this matter
can be made by spelling out their respective conditions for epistemic failure.
Thought experiments fail in their epistemic role when they neither yield
propositional knowledge nor contribute to an argument. They are largely in the
business of ‘knowing that’. Novels, on the other hand can be an epistemic
success by yielding ‘knowledge how’. They can help us to improve our