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Simulation and Thought Experiments. The Example of Contractualism

Nenad Miščević ; University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 237 Kb

str. 161-190

preuzimanja: 44



The paper investigates some mechanisms of thought-experimenting, and explores the role of perspective taking, in particular of mental simulation, in political thought-experiments, focusing for the most part on contractualist ones. It thus brings together two blossoming traditions: the study of perspective taking and methodology of thought-experiments. How do contractualist thought-experiments work? Our moderately infl ationist mental modelling proposal is that they mobilize our imaginative capacity for perspective taking, most probably perspective taking through simulation. The framework suggests the answers to questions that are often raised for other kinds of thought-experiments as well, concerning their source of data, heuristic superiority to deduction, experiential, qualitative character and ease in eliminating alternatives. In the case of contractualist political thought-experiments, the data come from perspective taking and the capacity to simulate. Mental simulation is way more accessible to subjects than abstract political reasoning from principles and facts. There is a new experience for the subject, the one of simulating. Simulation normally is quick and effortless; the simulator does not go through alternatives, but is constrained in an unconscious way. We distinguish two kinds of political thought-experiments and two manners of imagining political arrangements, building third-person mental models, and fi rst-person perspective taking. The two mechanisms, the fi rst of inductive model building, the second for simulation, and their combination(s), exhaust the range of cognitive mechanism underlying political thought-experimenting.

Ključne riječi

Thought experiment, simulation, social contract, veil of ignorance.

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