Wesley Buckwalter University of Waterloo
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  • Postdoc, University of Waterloo
  • PhD, City University of New York, 2013.

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  1. Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri, In the Thick of Moral Motivation.
    We accomplish three things in this paper. First, we expose the motivational internalism/externalism debate in moral psychology as a false dichotomy born of ambiguity. Second, we provide further evidence for a crucial distinction between two different categories of belief in folk psychology: thick belief and thin belief. Third, we demonstrate how careful attention to deep features of folk psychology can help diagnose and defuse seemingly intractable philosophical disagreement in metaethics.
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  2. Wesley Buckwalter (forthcoming). Factive Verbs and Protagonist Projection. Episteme.
    Nearly all philosophers agree that only true things can be known. But does this principle reflect actual patterns of ordinary usage? Several examples in ordinary language seem to show that ‘know’ is literally used non-factively. By contrast, this paper reports five experiments utilizing explicit paraphrasing tasks, which suggest that non-factive uses are actually not literal. Instead, they are better explained by a phenomenon known as protagonist projection. It is argued that armchair philosophical orthodoxy regarding the truth requirement for knowledge withstands (...)
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  3. Wesley Buckwalter (forthcoming). Intuition Fail: Philosophical Activity and the Limits of Expertise. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Experimental philosophers have empirically challenged the connection between intuition and philosophical expertise. This paper reviews these challenges alongside other research findings in cognitive science on expert performance and argues for three claims. First, evidence taken to challenge philosophical expertise may also be explained by the well-researched failures and limitations of genuine expertise. Second, studying the failures and limitations of experts across many fields provides a promising research program upon which to base a new model of philosophical expertise. Third, a model (...)
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  4. Wesley Buckwalter (forthcoming). The Mystery of Stakes and Error in Ascriber Intuitions. In James Beebe (ed.), Advances in Experimental Epistemology. Continuum.
    Research in experimental epistemology has revealed a great, yet unsolved mystery: why do ordinary evaluations of knowledge ascribing sentences involving stakes and error appear to diverge so systematically from the predictions professional epistemologists make about them? Two recent solutions to this mystery by Keith DeRose (2011) and N. Ángel Pinillos (2012) argue that these differences arise due to specific problems with the designs of past experimental studies. This paper presents two new experiments to directly test these responses. Results vindicate previous (...)
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  5. Wesley Buckwalter & Mark Phelan (forthcoming). Phenomenal Consciousness Disembodied. In Justin Sytsma (ed.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind. Continuum.
    We evaluate the role of embodiment in ordinary mental state ascriptions. Presented are five experiments on phenomenal state ascriptions to disembodied entities such as ghosts and spirits. Results suggest that biological embodiment is not a central principle of folk psychology guiding ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness. By contrast, results continue to support the important role of functional considerations in theory of mind judgments.
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  6. Mark Phelan & Wesley Buckwalter (forthcoming). Analytic Functionalism and Mental State Attribution. Philosophical Topics.
    We argue that the causal account offered by analytic functionalism provides the best account of the folk psychological theory of mind, and that people ordinarily define mental states relative to the causal roles these states occupy in relation to environmental impingements, external behaviors, and other mental states. We present new empirical evidence, as well as review several key studies on mental state ascription to diverse types of entities such as robots, cyborgs, corporations and God, and explain how this evidence supports (...)
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  7. David Rose, Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri (forthcoming). When Words Speak Louder Than Actions: Delusion, Belief and the Power of Assertion. Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    People suffering from severe monothematic delusions, such as Capgras and Cotard patients, regularly assert extraordinary and unlikely things. For example, some say that their loved ones have been replaced by impostors. A popular view in philosophy and cognitive science is that such monothematic delusions aren’t beliefs because they don’t guide behavior and affect in the way that beliefs do. Or, if they are beliefs, they are somehow anomalous, atypical, or marginal beliefs. We present evidence from four studies that folk psychology (...)
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  8. Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.) (forthcoming). A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell.
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  9. John Turri, Wesley Buckwalter & Peter Blouw (forthcoming). Knowledge and Luck. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.
    Nearly all success is due to some mix of ability and luck. But some successes we attribute to the agent’s ability, whereas others we attribute to luck. To better understand the criteria distinguishing credit from luck, we conducted a series of four studies on knowledge attributions. Knowledge is an achievement that involves reaching the truth. But many factors affecting the truth are beyond our control and reaching the truth is often partly due to luck. Which sorts of luck are compatible (...)
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  10. Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri (2014). Telling, Showing and Knowing: A Unified Theory of Pedagogical Norms. Analysis 74 (1):16-20.
    Pedagogy is a pillar of human culture and society. Telling each other information and showing each other how to do things comes naturally to us. A strong case has been made that declarative knowledge is the norm of assertion, which is our primary way of telling others information. This article presents an analogous case for the hypothesis that procedural knowledge is the norm of instructional demonstration, which is a primary way of showing others how to do things. Knowledge is the (...)
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  11. David Colaco, Wesley Buckwalter, Stephen Stich & Edouard Machery (2014). Epistemic Intuitions in Fake-Barn Thought Experiments. Episteme 11 (2):199-212.
    In epistemology, fake-barn thought experiments are often taken to be intuitively clear cases in which a justified true belief does not qualify as knowledge. We report a study designed to determine whether non-philosophers share this intuition. The data suggest that while participants are less inclined to attribute knowledge in fake-barn cases than in unproblematic cases of knowledge, they nonetheless do attribute knowledge to protagonists in fake-barn cases. Moreover, the intuition that fake-barn cases do count as knowledge is negatively correlated with (...)
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  12. Moti Mizrahi & Wesley Buckwalter (2014). The Role of Justification in the Ordinary Concept of Scientific Progress. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 45 (1):151-166.
    Alexander Bird and Darrell Rowbottom have argued for two competing accounts of the concept of scientific progress. For Bird, progress consists in the accumulation of scientific knowledge. For Rowbottom, progress consists in the accumulation of true scientific beliefs. Both appeal to intuitions elicited by thought experiments in support of their views, and it seems fair to say that the debate has reached an impasse. In an attempt to avoid this stalemate, we conduct a systematic study of the factors that underlie (...)
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  13. Wesley Buckwalter (2013). Gettier Made ESEE. Philosophical Psychology (3):1-16.
    Previous research in experimental philosophy has suggested that moral judgments can influence the ordinary application of a number of different concepts, including attributions of knowledge. But should epistemologists care? The present set of studies demonstrate that this basic effect can be extended to overturn intuitions in some of the most theoretically central experiments in contemporary epistemology: Gettier cases. Furthermore, experiment three shows that this effect is unlikely mediated by a simple desire to blame, suggesting that a correct psychological account of (...)
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  14. Wesley Buckwalter (2013). The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change, by Paul Thagard. [REVIEW] Mind 122 (488):1201-1204.
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  15. Wesley Buckwalter & Mark Phelan (2013). Function and Feeling Machines: A Defense of the Philosophical Conception of Subjective Experience. Philosophical Studies 166 (2):349-361.
    Philosophers of mind typically group experiential states together and distinguish these from intentional states on the basis of their purportedly obvious phenomenal character. Sytsma and Machery (Phil Stud 151(2): 299–327, 2010) challenge this dichotomy by presenting evidence that non-philosophers do not classify subjective experiences relative to a state’s phenomenological character, but rather by its valence. However we argue that S&M’s results do not speak to folk beliefs about the nature of experiential states, but rather to folk beliefs about the entity (...)
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  16. Wesley Buckwalter, David Rose & John Turri (2013). Belief Through Thick and Thin. Noûs 47 (3).
    We distinguish between two categories of belief—thin belief and thick belief—and provide evidence that they approximate genuinely distinct categories within folk psychology. We use the distinction to make informative predictions about how laypeople view the relationship between knowledge and belief. More specifically, we show that if the distinction is genuine, then we can make sense of otherwise extremely puzzling recent experimental findings on the entailment thesis (i.e. the widely held philosophical thesis that knowledge entails belief). We also suggest that the (...)
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  17. Wesley Buckwalter & Jonathan Schaffer (2013). Knowledge, Stakes, and Mistakes. Noûs 47 (1):n/a-n/a.
    According to a prominent claim in recent epistemology, people are less likely to ascribe knowledge to a high stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are severe, than to a low stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are slight. We offer an opinionated "state of the art" on experimental research about the role of stakes in knowledge judgments. We draw on a first wave of empirical studies--due to Feltz & Zarpentine (2010), May et al (2010), (...)
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  18. Katherine Tullmann & Wesley Buckwalter (2013). Does the Paradox of Fiction Exist? Erkenntnis:1-18.
    Many philosophers have attempted to provide a solution to the paradox of fiction, a triad of sentences that lead to the conclusion that genuine emotional responses to fiction are irrational. We suggest that disagreement over the best response to this paradox stems directly from the formulation of the paradox itself. Our main goal is to show that there is an ambiguity regarding the word ‘exist’ throughout the premises of the paradox. To reveal this ambiguity, we display the diverse existential commitments (...)
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  19. Wesley Buckwalter (2012). Non-Traditional Factors in Judgments About Knowledge. Philosophy Compass 7 (4):278-289.
    One recent trend in contemporary epistemology is to study the way in which the concept of knowledge is actually applied in everyday settings. This approach has inspired an exciting new spirit of collaboration between experimental philosophers and traditional epistemologists, who have begun using the techniques of the social sciences to investigate the factors that influence ordinary judgments about knowledge attribution. This paper provides an overview of some of the results these researchers have uncovered, suggesting that in addition to traditionally considered (...)
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  20. Wesley Buckwalter (2012). Surveying Philosophers: A Response to Kuntz & Kuntz. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (4):515-524.
    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 (...)
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  21. Wesley Buckwalter, Joshua Knobe, Shaun Nichols, N. Ángel Pinillos, Philip Robbins, Hagop Sarkissian, Chris Weigel & Jonathan M. Weinberg (2012). Experimental Philosophy. Oxford Bibliographies Online (1):81-92.
    Bibliography of works in experimental philosophy.
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  22. Joshua Knobe, Wesley Buckwalter, Philip Robbins, Hagop Sarkissian, Tamler Sommers & Shaun Nichols (2012). Experimental Philosophy. Annual Review of Psychology 63 (50):72-73.
    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 (...)
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  23. Kevin Tobia, Wesley Buckwalter & Stephen Stich (2012). Moral Intuitions: Are Philosophers Experts? Philosophical Psychology (5):1-10.
    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 (...)
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  24. Wesley Buckwalter & Stephen Stich (2011). Competence, Reflective Equilibrium, and Dual-System Theories. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (05):251–252.
    A critique of inferences from 'is' to 'ought' plays a central role in Elqayam and Evans' defense of descriptivism. However, the reflective equilibrium strategy described by Goodman and embraced by Rawls, Cohen and many others poses an important challenge to that critique. Dual system theories may help respond to that challenge.
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  25. James R. Beebe & Wesley Buckwalter (2010). The Epistemic Side-Effect Effect. Mind and Language 25 (4):474-498.
    Knobe (2003a, 2003b, 2004b) and others have demonstrated the surprising fact that the valence of a side-effect action can affect intuitions about whether that action was performed intentionally. Here we report the results of an experiment that extends these findings by testing for an analogous effect regarding knowledge attributions. Our results suggest that subjects are less likely to find that an agent knows an action will bring about a side-effect when the effect is good than when it is bad. It (...)
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  26. Wesley Buckwalter (2010). Knowledge Isn't Closed on Saturday: A Study in Ordinary Language. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (3):395-406.
    Recent theories of epistemic contextualism have challenged traditional invariantist positions in epistemology by claiming that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions fluctuate between conversational contexts. Contextualists often garner support for this view by appealing to folk intuitions regarding ordinary knowledge practices. Proposed is an experiment designed to test the descriptive conditions upon which these types of contextualist defenses rely. In the cases tested, the folk pattern of knowledge attribution runs contrary to what contextualism predicts. While preliminary, these data inspire prima (...)
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