Podcast about Philosophy Illustrated (ed. by Helen de Cruz)

by Eric Schliesser on November 9, 2022

Thought experiments are tools philosophers and scientists use to investigate how things are, without actually having to go out and experiment in the real world. Philosophy Illustrated: Forty-Two Thought Experiments to Broaden your Mind (Oxford UP, 2021) presents forty-two philosophical thought experiments. Each thought experiment is illustrated by  Helen De Cruz and is summarized in one or two paragraphs, which is followed by a brief exploration of its significance. Each thought experiment also includes a longer (approximately 2-page) reflection, written by a philosopher who is a specialist in the field. Morteza Hajizadeh interviewed De Cruz and eight contributors including luminaries like Laurie Paul and Peter Singer (as well — apologies for self-promotion–folk like myself) in this podcast:

The nine sections of the podcast interview are these:

  1. Pictures as philosophy, by Helen De Cruz
  2. Skywalk. Original thought experiment by Tamar Gendler
  3. The creationist teacher. Original thought experiment by Jennifer Lackey
  4. The drowning child. Original thought experiment by Peter Singer
  5. Splitting the bill at a restaurant. Original thought experiment by David Christensen. Reflection by David Christensen
  6. Red square. Original thought experiment by Arthur Danto. Reflection by Alex King
  7. Becoming a vampire. Original thought experiment by L.A. Paul
  8. The impartial caretaker. Original thought experiment by Mozi. Reflection by Hui-chieh Loy
  9. Seeing color for the first time. Original thought experiment by Ibn Tufayl. Reflection by Eric Schliesser



Ray Vinmad 11.09.22 at 4:44 am

This sounds like a very fun and useful book.

When I click the link for the podcast, it says it is invalid.


Eric Schliesser 11.09.22 at 4:52 pm

Thank you for catching that, Ray! I have corrected it, let me know if the links work now. (You may encounter a minute or two of commercial advertising, alas, first.)


engels 11.09.22 at 8:43 pm

Leaving out the trolley problem seems like making a Monty Python “Best Of” without the Parrot Sketch (which iirc MP did).


roger gathmann 11.11.22 at 9:16 pm

So, how are these experiments exactly? Cause as I understand the use of statistics to understand how to design experiments since about Quetelet’s time, these are inaccessible to that method. So they are more like imaginary scenarios than experiments. Even the imaginary scenarios in physics eventually lead to experiments that have a statistically valid design.

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