Models of Philosophical Thought Experiments

A philosophy professor has launched a project to create 3D-printed models of philosophical thought experiments, along with other open-access materials “designed to teach learners of all ages about the problems of philosophy.”

Make Philosophy’s model of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “Famous Violinist” thought experiment

Make Philosophy” is the creation of Eli Shupe, assistant professor of philosophy and humanities at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and co-director of the university’s Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program. She works with Morgan Chivers, a librarian and artist-in-residence who works at UTA’s FabLab, as well a team of undergraduate research fellows.

The project’s 3D models depict the elements of the thought experiments and help make vivid what they ask about. The model of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “Famous Violinist,” for example, connects statuettes of its subjects by a thread to be cut—or not.

For each thought experiment, Shupe and her team provide 3D printing files, instructions, and descriptions of the issues it is intended to raise.

The project is a collaboration between the Department of Philosophy and Humanities and UTA Libraries. You can learn more about it here.

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Eli Shupe
1 year ago

So delighted to see our project featured here! I just want to give a special shout out to Iliana Martinez (ixm7658″at”, the student who did the 3D modeling for the people in the Famous Violinist set. She’s hoping to pursue a career in digital modeling and design after college and I was very lucky to be able to collaborate with her on this project!

I’d also like to mention that all of our undergraduate research assistants are paid through UTA’s fantastic Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, which has been a huge boon to the project.