August went by too fast! But we still have time for one more thought experiment. It’s a short one, but it has many uses in philosophy of science.
Consider the ship of Neurath. It was introduced by a member of the Vienna Circle named Otto Neurath (the Vienna Circle was an early 20th Century group known for their view that no metaphysical conceptions were allowed into science). He compared the way that scientific knowledge is built up, to a ship being refitted at sea. When repairs are necessary, new planks have to be added in such a way that the functionality of the ship is maintained.
One question is, ‘When all the pieces of the ship are replaced, is it the same ship?’ In what way is it and in what way is it not?
Making this Gedankenexperiment relevant to this blog, we might ask, ‘In which ways can we compare the Church to the ship of Neurath? (Easy things come to mind like getting rid of Ward-level Seventies, or introducing new Quorums of the Seventy at the Church-level)
Should some things that need replacing be left in place because it would impair the functionality of the ship?
Who points out that planks are in need of repair? Who decides which planks should be repaired?