Thought experiments in personal identity: A dialogue with Beck, Wagner and Wilkes

Published in: South African Journal of Philosophy
Volume 36, issue 4, 2017, pages: 456–469
DOI: 10.1080/02580136.2017.1342466
Author(s): Alfonso Muñoz-CorcueraDepartment of Philosophy, USA


In a recent series of papers, Beck and Wagner have been arguing about the general role that thought experiments can play in the debate on personal identity, showing their disagreement about the famous criticisms that Wilkes’ launched against their use. In this article I come back to Wilkes’ criticisms to show that her position is deeply problematic. If we adopt instead the mental model account of thought experiments, we can accommodate Wilkes’ criticisms and justify the use of thought experiments in the debate of personal identity. This will allow us to see why Beck and Wagner were both half right and half wrong in their discussion.

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