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The Forever War: Understanding, Science Fiction, and Thought Experiments
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication, Culture and Aesthetics. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9560-0284
2019 (English)In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, p. 1-24Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to show that scientific thought experiments and works of science fiction are highly suitable tools for facilitating and increasing understanding of science. After comparing one of Einstein’s most famous thought experiments with the science fiction novel “The Forever War”, I shall argue that both proceed similarly in making some of the more outlandish consequences of special relativity theory intelligible. However, as I will also point out, understanding in thought experiments and understanding in science fiction differ in one important respect: While the former aim at what I shall call “physical understanding”, science fiction novels typically have “existential understanding” as their target.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2019. p. 1-24
Keywords [en]
Thought experiments; Science fiction; Understanding
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-162578DOI: 10.1007/s11229-019-02306-6Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85068977505OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-162578DiVA, id: diva2:1376146
Available from: 2019-12-08 Created: 2019-12-08 Last updated: 2020-01-20Bibliographically approved

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