The thesis of this paper is that thought experiments provide an especially powerful way to frame a class discussion. They work for students for the same reason that they have worked for great geniuses (such as Einstein) through the ages—namely, because they are interdisciplinary. Competing rationalist and empiricist accounts of how thought experiments work suggest that they will engage both rationally- and empirically-minded students. Examples of student responses to thought experiments confirm that they bring out interestingly diverse ways of thinking. Concern that interdisciplinary pedagogy makes genuine communication impossible has led some theorists to insist on a methodological pluralism that refuses to privilege any one approach. I argue however, that interdisciplinary instructors must ultimately ask students to incorporate their diverse perspectives into the discourse of the instructor’s discipline in order to ensure that their work is judged in accordance with a time-tested criterion of excellence.
Kaye, Sharon M., "Thought Experiment as an Interdisciplinary Pedagogy" (2018). 2018 Faculty Bibliography. 52.
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