Experimental philosophy has emerged as a very specific kind of response to an equally specific way of thinking about philosophy, one typically associated with philosophical analysis and according to which philosophical claims are measured, at least in part, by our intuitions. Since experimental philosophy has emerged as a response to this way of thinking about philosophy, its philosophical significance depends, in no small part, on how significant the practice of appealing to intuitions is to philosophy. In this paper, I defend (...) the significance of experimental philosophy by defending the significance of intuitions—in particular, by defending their significance from a recent challenge advanced by Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
Knobe's argument rests on a way of distinguishing performance errors from the competencies that delimit our cognitive architecture. We argue that other sorts of evidence than those that he appeals to are needed to illuminate the boundaries of our folk capacities in ways that would support his conclusions.
Our interest in this paper is to drive a wedge of contention between two different programs that fall under the umbrella of “experimental philosophy”. In particular, we argue that experimental philosophy’s “negative program” presents almost as significant a challenge to its “positive program” as it does to more traditional analytic philosophy.
It has been standard philosophical practice in analytic philosophy to employ intuitions generated in response to thought-experiments as evidence in the evaluation of philosophical claims. In part as a response to this practice, an exciting new movement—experimental philosophy—has recently emerged. This movement is unified behind both a common methodology and a common aim: the application of methods of experimental psychology to the study of the nature of intuitions. In this paper, we will introduce two different views concerning the relationship that (...) holds between experimental philosophy and the future of standard philosophical practice (what we call, the proper foundation view and the restrictionist view), discuss some of the more interesting and important results obtained by proponents of both views, and examine the pressure these results put on analytic philosophers to reform standard philosophical practice. We will also defend experimental philosophy from some recent objections, suggest future directions for work in experimental philosophy, and suggest what future lines of epistemological response might be available to those wishing to defend analytic epistemology from the challenges posed by experimental philosophy. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers have recently questioned the use of intuitions as evidence in philosophical methods. J. R. Kuntz and J. R.C. Kuntz (2011) conduct an experiment suggesting that these critiques fail to be properly motivated because they fail to capture philosophers' preferred conceptions of intuition‐use. In this response, it is argued that while there are a series of worries about the design of this study, the data generated by Kuntz and Kuntz support, rather than undermine, the motivation for the experimentalist critiques (...) of intuition they aim to criticize. (shrink)
One central purpose of Experimental Philosophy (hereafter, x-phi) is to criticize the alleged reliance on intuitions in contemporary philosophy. In my book Philosophy without Intuitions (hereafter, PWI), I argue that philosophers don’t rely on intuitions. If those arguments are good, experimental philosophy has been engaged in an attack on a strawman. The goal of this paper is to bolster the criticism of x-phi in the light of responses.
La philosophie expérimentale est un mouvement récent qui tente de faire progresser certains débats philosophiques grâce à l'utilisation de méthodes expérimentales. À la différence de la philosophie conventionnelle qui privilégie l'analyse conceptuelle ou la spéculation, la philosophie expérimentale préconise le recours aux études empiriques pour mieux comprendre les concepts philosophiques. Apparue il y a une dizaine d'années dans les pays anglo-saxons, cette approche constitue actuellement l'une des branches les plus dynamiques de la philosophie contemporaine. -/- L'objectif de cet ouvrage est (...) d'offrir un contact direct avec les travaux les plus connus et les plus discutés des philosophes expérimentaux. Il regroupe ainsi dix textes représentatifs de ce domaine jeune, mais déjà florissant, et couvre une large partie du champ philosophique contemporain (philosophie du langage, théorie de la connaissance, conscience, théorie de l'action, éthique et philosophie des sciences). (shrink)
: Psychological explanations of philosophical intuitions can help us assess their evidentiary value, and our warrant for accepting them. To explain and assess conceptual or classificatory intuitions about specific situations, some philosophers have suggested explanations which invoke heuristic rules proposed by cognitive psychologists. The present paper extends this approach of intuition assessment by heuristics-based explanation, in two ways: It motivates the proposal of a new heuristic, and shows that this metaphor heuristic helps explain important but neglected intuitions: general factual intuitions (...) which have been highly influential in the philosophies of mind and perception but neglected in on-going debates in the epistemology of philosophy. To do so, the paper integrates results from three philosophically pertinent but hitherto largely unconnected strands of psychological research: research on intuitive judgement, analogy and metaphor, and memory-based processing, respectively. The paper shows that the heuristics-based explanation thus obtained satisfies the key requirements cognitive psychologists impose on such explanations, that it can explain the philosophical intuitions targeted, and that this explanation supports normative assessment of the intuitions' evidentiary value: It reveals whether particular intuitions are due to proper exercise of cognitive competencies or constitute cognitive illusions. (shrink)
This paper considers three package deals combining views in Philosophy of Mind, Meta-Philosophy, and Experimental Philosophy. The most familiar of these packages gives center-stage to pumping intuitions about fanciful cases, but that package involves problematic commitments both to a controversial descriptivist theory of reference and to intuitions that ‘negative’ experimental philosophers have shown to be suspiciously variable and context-sensitive. In light of these difficulties, it would be good for future-minded experimental philosophers to align themselves with a different package deal. This (...) paper suggests two alternatives. Experimentalists might help fans of “Naturalized” approaches discover what natural kinds have been playing an appropriate role in causing us to use concepts as we do. Or—better still—experimentalists might instead help pragmatists and teleo-semanticists discover how our concept usage regularly yields beneficial outcomes, so that we can then craft philosophical analyses that will enable us to yield such beneficial outcomes more consistently. Using free will and explanation as instructive examples, this paper offers concrete guidance and suggestions for how experimental philosophers can pursue new positive projects that will be both pragmatically and philosophically useful. (shrink)
This paper concerns the philosophical significance of a choice about how to design the context shifting experiments used by contextualists and anti-intellectualists: Should contexts be judged jointly, with contrast, or separately, without contrast? Findings in experimental psychology suggest (1) that certain contextual features are more difficult to evaluate when considered separately, and there are reasons to think that one feature--stakes or importance--that interests contextualists and anti-intellectualists is such a difficult to evaluate attribute, and (2) that joint evaluation of contexts can (...) yield judgments that are more reflective and rational in certain respects. With those two points in mind, a question is raised about what source of evidence provides better support for philosophical theories of how contextual features affect knowledge ascriptions and evidence: Should we prefer evidence consisting of "ordinary" judgments, or more reflective, perhaps more rational judgments? That question is answered in relation to different accounts of what such theories aim to explain, and it is concluded that evidence from contexts evaluated jointly should be an important source of evidence for contextualist and anti-intellectualist theories, a conclusion that is at odds with the methodology of some recent studies in experimental epistemology. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently suggested that the role of intuitions in the epistemology of armchair philosophy has been exaggerated. This suggestion is rehearsed and endorsed. What bearing does the rejection of the centrality of intuition in armchair philosophy have on experimentalist critiques of the latter? I distinguish two very different kinds of experimentalist critique: one critique requires the centrality of intuition; the other does not.
Claims about people's intuitions have long played an important role in philosophical debates. The new field of experimental philosophy seeks to subject such claims to rigorous tests using the traditional methods of cognitive science – systematic experimentation and statistical analysis. Work in experimental philosophy thus far has investigated people's intuitions in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics. Although it is now generally agreed that experimental philosophers have made surprising discoveries about people's intuitions in each of these areas, (...) considerable disagreement remains about the philosophical significance of the key findings. Some have argued that work in experimental philosophy should be assessed by asking whether it can contribute to the kind of inquiry that is normally pursued within analytic philosophy, while others suggest that work in experimental philosophy is best understood as a contribution to a more traditional sort of philosophical inquiry that long predates the birth of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is a new interdisciplinary field that uses methods normally associated with psychology to investigate questions normally associated with philosophy. The present review focuses on research in experimental philosophy on four central questions. First, why is it that people's moral judgments appear to influence their intuitions about seemingly nonmoral questions? Second, do people think that moral questions have objective answers, or do they see morality as fundamentally relative? Third, do people believe in free will, and do they see free (...) will as compatible with determinism? Fourth, how do people determine whether an entity is conscious? (shrink)
Editorial: Dimensions of Experimental Philosophy Content Type Journal Article Pages 315-318 DOI 10.1007/s13164-010-0037-9 Authors Joshua Knobe, Program in Cognitive Science and Department of Philosophy, Yale University, New Haven, CT USA Tania Lombrozo, Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley, 3210 Tolman Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA Edouard Machery, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 1017 CL, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Journal Review of Philosophy and Psychology Online ISSN 1878-5166 Print ISSN 1878-5158 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume (...) 1, Number 3. (shrink)
It used to be a commonplace that the discipline of philosophy was deeply concerned with questions about the human condition. Philosophers thought about human beings and how their minds worked. They took an interest in reason and passion, culture and innate ideas, the origins of people’s moral and religious beliefs. On this traditional conception, it wasn’t particularly important to keep philosophy clearly distinct from psychology, history, or political science. Philosophers were concerned, in a very general way, with questions about how..
This paper addresses the definition and the operational use of intuitions in philosophical methods in the form of a research study encompassing several regions of the globe, involving 282 philosophers from a wide array of academic backgrounds and areas of specialisation. The authors tested whether philosophers agree on the conceptual definition and the operational use of intuitions, and investigated whether specific demographic variables and philosophical specialisation influence how philosophers define and use intuitions. The results obtained point to a number of (...) significant findings, including that philosophers distinguish between intuitions used to formulate (discovery) and to test (justification) philosophical theory. The survey results suggest that strategies implemented to characterise philosophical intuition are not well motivated since, even though philosophers do not agree on a single account of intuition, they fail to capture a preferred usage of intuitions as aspects of discovery. The quantitative summary of survey findings informs the debate on this topic, and advances more defined routes for subsequent approaches to the study of intuitions. (shrink)
This anthology mixes together previously published and new work in experimental philosophy, by many of its leading figures (among whom the editors feature prominently). Experimental philosophy is a burgeoning movement that urges philosophers to leave their armchairs and test their philosophical claims empirically. It builds upon but goes further than the movement that Jesse Prinz, in his contribution, calls empirical philosophy; philosophy that turns to existing scientific literature to find evidence for philosophical claim. Experimental philosophy involves philosophers actually getting their (...) hands dirty by conducting experiments. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is a new and somewhat controversial method of philosophical inquiry in which philosophers conduct experiments in order to shed light on issues of philosophical interest. This typically involves surveying ordinary people to find out their "intuitions" (roughly, pre-theoretical judgments) about hypothetical cases important to philosophical theorizing. The controversy surrounding this methodology arises largely because it departs from more traditional ways of doing philosophy. Moreover, some of its practitioners have used it to argue that the more traditional methods are (...) flawed. In Experimental Philosophy, Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols are set with the task of introducing readers to this burgeoning field by putting together a collection of some of its most important articles. Given how controversial it has become, this is a heavy burden. I'm happy to say that they have put together a valuable collection that serves as a diplomatic introduction to this exciting new style of research. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is the name for a recent movement whose participants use the methods of experimental psychology to probe the way people think about philosophical issues and then examine how the results of such studies bear on traditional philosophical debates. Given both the breadth of the research being carried out by experimental philosophers and the controversial nature of some of their central methodological assumptions, it is of no surprise that their work has recently come under attack. In this paper we (...) respond to some criticisms of experimental philosophy that have recently been put forward by Antti Kauppinen. Unlike the critics of experimental philosophy, we do not think the fledgling movement either will or should fall before it has even had a chance to rise up to explain what it is, what it seeks to do (and not to do), and exactly how it plans to do it. Filling in some of the salient details is the main goal of the present paper. (shrink)
Analytic philosophers have long used a priori methods to characterize folk concepts like knowledge, belief, and wrongness. Recently, researchers have begun to exploit social scientific methodologies to characterize such folk concepts. One line of work has explored folk intuitions on cases that are disputed within philosophy. A second approach, with potentially more radical implications, applies the methods of cross-cultural psychology to philosophical intuitions. Recent work suggests that people in different cultures have systematically different intuitions surrounding folk concepts like wrong, knows, (...) and refers. A third strand of research explores the emergence and character of folk concepts in children. These approaches to characterizing folk concepts provide important resources that will supplement, and perhaps sometimes displace, a priori approaches. (shrink)
This book is concerned with the role of intuitions in the justification of philosophical theory. The author begins by demonstrating how contemporary philosophers, whether engaged in case-driven analysis or seeking reflective equilibrium, rely on intuitions as evidence for their theories. The author then provides an account of the nature of philosophical intuitions and distinguishes them from other psychological states. Finally, the author defends the use of intuitions as evidence by demonstrating that arguments for skepticism about their evidential value are either (...) self-defeating or guilty of arbitrary and unjustified partiality towards non-intuitive modes of knowledge. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is often presented as a new movement that avoids many of the difficulties that face traditional philosophy. This article distinguishes two views of experimental philosophy: a narrow view in which philosophers conduct empirical investigations of intuitions, and a broad view which says that experimental philosophy is just the colocation in the same body of (i) philosophical naturalism and (ii) the actual practice of cognitive science. These two positions are rarely clearly distinguished in the literature about experimental philosophy, both (...) pro and con. The article argues, first, that the broader view is the only plausible one; discussions of experimental philosophy should recognize that the narrow view is a caricature of experimental philosophy as it is currently done. It then shows both how objections to experimental philosophy are transformed and how positive recommendations can be provided by adopting a broad conception of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
One critique of experimental philosophy is that the intuitions of the philosophically untutored should be accorded little to no weight; instead, only the intuitions of professional philosophers should matter. In response to this critique, “experimentalists” often claim that the intuitions of professional philosophers are biased. In this paper, we explore this question of whose intuitions should be disqualified and why. Much of the literature on this issue focuses on the question of whether the intuitions of professional philosophers are reliable. In (...) contrast, we instead focus on the idea of “muddled” intuitions—i.e. intuitions that are misdirected and about notions other than the ones under discussion. We argue that the philosophically untutored are likely to have muddled intuitions and that professional philosophers are likely to have unmuddled intuitions. Although being umuddled does not, by itself, establish the reliability of the intuitions of professional philosophers, being muddled is enough to disqualify the intuitions of the philosophically untutored. We then turn to the charge that, despite being unmuddled, professional philosophers still have biased intuitions. To evaluate this charge, we switch focus from the general notion of biased intuition to the more specific notion of theory-laden intuition. We argue that there is prima facie evidence—in the form of the presence of conflicts of intuition—for thinking that at least some of the intuitions of professional philosophers are theory-laden. In summary, we conclude that that there is no clean and easy answer to the question of whose intuitions should matter. (shrink)
One view of philosophy that is sometimes expressed, especially by scientists, is that while philosophers are good at asking questions, they are poor at producing convincing answers. And the perceived divide between philosophical and scientific methods is often pointed to as the major culprit behind this lack of progress. Looking back at the history of philosophy, however, we find that this methodological divide is a relatively recent invention. Further, it is one that has been challenged over the past decade by (...) the modern incarnation of experimental philosophy. How might the reincorporation of empirical methods into philosophy aid the process of making philosophical progress? Building off of the work of Sytsma (2010), we argue that one way it does so is by offering a means of resolving some disputes that arise in philosophy. We illustrate how philosophical disputes may sometimes be resolved empirically by looking at the recent experimental literature on intuitions about reference. (shrink)
The practice of conceptual analysis has undergone a revival in recent years. Although the extent of its role in philosophy is controversial, many now accept that conceptual analysis has at least some role to play. Granting this, I consider the relevance of empirical investigation to conceptual analysis. I do so by contrasting an extreme position (anti-empirical conceptual analysis) with a more moderate position (non-empirical conceptual analysis). I argue that anti-empirical conceptual analysis is not a viable position because it has no (...) means for resolving conceptual disputes that arise between seemingly competent speakers of the language. This is illustrated by considering one such dispute that has been pressed by a prominent advocate of anti-empirical conceptual analysis: Bennett and Hacker ( 2003 ) assert that psychological predicates only logically apply to whole living animals, but many scientists and philosophers use the terms more broadly. I argue that to resolve such disputes we need to empirically investigate the common understanding of the terms at issue. I then show how this can be done by presenting the results of three studies concerning the application of “calculates” to computers. (shrink)
Some recent researches in experimental philosophy have posed a problem for philosophers’ appeal to intuition (hereinafter referred to as PAI); the aim of this paper is to offer an answer to this challenge. The thesis against PAI implies that, given some experimental results, intuition does not seem to be a reliable epistemic source, and —more importantly— given the actual state of knowledge about its operation, we do not have sufficient resources to mitigate its errors and thus establish its reliability. That (...) is why PAI is hopeless. Throughout this paper I will defend my own conception of PAI, which I have called the Deliberative Conception, and consequently, I will defend intersubjective agreement as a means to mitigate PAI errors, offering empirical evidence from recent studies on the Argumentative Theory of Reason that favor the conception I defend here. Finally, I will reply to some objections that might arise against the Deliberative Conception, which will lead me to discuss some metaphilosophical issues that are significantly relevant for the future of the dispute about the appeal to intuition. (shrink)
Recently psychologists and experimental philosophers have reported findings showing that in some cases ordinary people's moral intuitions are affected by factors of dubious relevance to the truth of the content of the intuition. Some defend the use of intuition as evidence in ethics by arguing that philosophers are the experts in this area, and philosophers' moral intuitions are both different from those of ordinary people and more reliable. We conducted two experiments indicating that philosophers and non-philosophers do indeed sometimes have (...) different moral intuitions, but challenging the notion that philosophers have better or more reliable intuitions. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson devotes significant effort in his The Philosophy of Philosophy to arguing against skepticism about judgment. One might think that the recent “experimental philosophy” challenge to the philosophical practice of appealing to intuitions as evidence is a possible target of those arguments. However, this is not so. The structure of that challenge is radically dissimilar from that of traditional skeptical arguments, and the aims of the challenge are entirely congruent with the spirit of methodological improvement that Williamson himself exemplifies (...) in the Afterword of his book. (shrink)
Using empirical evidence to attack intuitions can be epistemically dangerous, because various of the complaints that one might raise against them (e.g., that they are fallible; that we possess no non-circular defense of their reliability) can be raised just as easily against perception itself. But the opponents of intuition wish to challenge intuitions without at the same time challenging the rest of our epistemic apparatus. How might this be done? Let us use the term “hopefulness” to refer to the extent (...) to which we possess a good capacity for the detection and correction of the errors of any fallible source of evidence. I argue that we should not trust putative sources of evidence that are substantially lacking in hopefulness (even if they are basically reliable), and that we are indeed already operating under such a norm in our ordinary and scientific practices. I argue further that the philosophical practice of the appeal to intuitions is, in these terms, badly hopeless... (shrink)
Experimental philosophy (henceforth “XΦ”) takes seriously the idea that philosophical inquiry may benefit directly from quantitative empirical research. That view strikes many as deeply misguided, perhaps oxymoronic: experimentation is simply the wrong kind of investigatory technique for solving philosophical puzzles. But to think XΦ an oxymoron is to have an opinion about the relationship between scientific and philosophical inquiry – in particular, that philosophy and science are distinct, independent enterprises each pursuable on its own terms. We argue that this ‘separate (...) but equal’ view of science and philosophy cannot be maintained. (shrink)
Standard philosophical methodology which proceeds by appeal to intuitions accessible "from the armchair" has come under criticism on the basis of empirical work indicating unanticipated variability of such intuitions. Loose constitutivity---the idea that intuitions are partly, but not strictly, constitutive of the concepts that appear in them---offers an interesting line of response to this empirical challenge. On a loose constitutivist view, it is unlikely that our intuitions are incorrect across the board, since they partly fix the facts in question. But (...) we argue that this ratification of intuitions is at best rough and generic, and can only do the required methodological work if it operates in conjunction with some sort of further criteria of theory selection. We consider two that we find in the literature: naturalness (Brian Weatherson, borrowing from Lewis) and charity (Henry Jackman, borrowing from Davidson). At the end of the day, neither provides the armchair philosopher complete shelter from extra-armchair inquiry. (shrink)
Recent experimental philosophy arguments have raised trouble for philosophers' reliance on armchair intuitions. One popular line of response has been the expertise defense: philosophers are highly-trained experts, whereas the subjects in the experimental philosophy studies have generally been ordinary undergraduates, and so there's no reason to think philosophers will make the same mistakes. But this deploys a substantive empirical claim, that philosophers' training indeed inculcates sufficient protection from such mistakes. We canvass the psychological literature on expertise, which indicates that people (...) are not generally very good at reckoning who will develop expertise under what circumstances. We consider three promising hypotheses concerning what philosophical expertise might consist in: (i) better conceptual schemata; (ii) mastery of entrenched theories; and (iii) general practical know-how with the entertaining of hypotheticals. On inspection, none seem to provide us with good reason to endorse this key empirical premise of the expertise defense. (shrink)
Skepticism about the epistemic value of intuition in theoretical and philosophical inquiry has recently been bolstered by empirical research suggesting that people’s concrete-case intuitions are vulnerable to irrational biases (e.g., the order effect). What is more, skeptics argue that we have no way to ‘‘calibrate” our intuitions against these biases and no way of anticipating intuitional instability. This paper challenges the skeptical position, introducing data from two studies that suggest not only that people’s concrete-case intuitions are often stable, but also (...) that people have introspective awareness of this stability, providing a promising means by which to assess the epistemic value of our intuitions. (shrink)