Mark Vanhoenacker argues that the solution to what he calls “Philosophy’s PR crisis” is thought experiments. As he writes:
Thought experiments (TXesTM, we’ll brand them) are the perfect philosophical consumer product for our age. The high they produce—a gratifying puzzlement, a perfectly framed issue, an “A-ha!” moment of insight into you and your society’s intuitions and contradictions—is quick and addictive. TXes are accessible and democratic, often by design. They strip out extraneous details and walk the user straight to the heart of a complicated issue. They’re much more democratic than science: By definition they don’t require a lab, special equipment, or any pesky numeracy skills. They’re easily remembered and shared (many fit into 140 characters). They’re fun on your own but wouldn’t be out of place at those dinner parties, either.
As Cocooners and readers may know already, I have my problems with thought experiments, which makes me doubt the merit of Vanhoenacker’s proposal. Do we really want people to think of thought experiments as the sine qua non of Philosophy?