thought experiments are generally created in order to:
* challenge the prevailing status quo (which includes activities such as correcting misinformation (or misapprehension), identify flaws in the argument(s) presented, to preserve (for the long-term) objectively established fact, and to refute specific assertions that some particular thing is permissible, forbidden, known, believed, possible, or necessary);
* extrapolate beyond (or interpolate within) the boundaries of already established fact;
* predict and forecast the (otherwise) indefinite and unknowable future;
* explain the past;
* the retrodiction, postdiction and hindcasting of the (otherwise) indefinite and unknowable past;
* facilitate decision making, choice and strategy selection;
* solve problems, and generate ideas;
* move current (often insoluble) problems into another, more helpful and more productive problem space (e.g., see functional fixedness);
* attribute causation, preventability, blame and responsibility for specific outcomes;
* assess culpability and compensatory damages in social and legal contexts;
* ensure the repeat of past success; or
* examine the extent to which past events might have occurred differently.
* ensure the (future) avoidance of past failures.