When I talk about a literary thought-experiment, however, I don't mean a premise that can be exhausted in a single sentence.
To wit: just as physicists, cosmologists, and philosophers design thought-experiments intended to validate or subvert received pieces of scientific wisdom, so do fiction writers design thoughtexperiments intended to validate or subvert presumed truths about the phenomenological world.
One reason I'm an aficionado of uniform acceleration is that it occasioned two of the most elegant thought-experiments in the history of science, the first by Galileo Galilei, the second by Albert Einstein.
Again, note the element of malice that characterizes thought-experiments. Searle wanted to demonstrate how a system that ostensibly possesses some sort of cognitive ability, such as language comprehension, might not really be thinking at all.
I'll conclude these remarks by considering two thought-experiments by a fiction writer with whose work I am promiscuously familiar--myself.
In these words Kant actually introduces his thought-experiment, which is entirely different from the above-mentioned thought-experiments by Dennett and Parfit, for Kant does not attempt to destroy or exclude the ideas of his opponents.
Hence, Kant's thought-experiment is by no means blind to Hume's considerations.
Brilliantly, even overwhelmingly, Parfit utilizes sophisticated thought-experiments to make the reader realize what must be the case.
Like Hilary Putnam, (3) but contrary to Putnam's total revision of this crucial matter, (4) Daniel Dennett employs extraordinary thought-experiments as well as overwhelming arguments to demonstrate that machines or robots can think.
In what follows I will attempt to analyze these examples in order to clarify how philosophical blindness, relying on however logically faultless arguments or thought-experiments, can prevail owing to lack of insight or to blindness to some illuminating philosophical possibilities.
Dennett's thought-experiments' attempts to demonstrate that robots can think and be conscious may be illusions carrying no philosophical force, just as children's magical fancies have no such force.