Ethical Perspectives 19 (2):268-276 (2012)
|Abstract||Can we test philosophical thought experiments, such as whether people would enter an experience machine or would leave one once they are inside? Dan Weijers, responding to me "Can We Test the Experience Machine?" suggests that since “rational” subjects (e.g. students taking surveys in class) are believable, we can do so. By contrast, I argue that because such subjects have the wrong affect (i.e. emotional state), such tests are worthless. Moreover, understood as a general policy, such pretend testing would ruin the results of most psychological tests, such as those of helping behavior, attitudes to authority, moral transgressions, etc. However, I argue that certain philosophical thought experiments do not require us to have any affect to understand them, and so can be tested. Generally, experimental philosophy must adhere to this limit, on pain of offering vacuous results.|
|Keywords||Experience Machine Experimental Philosophy Rationality Robert Nozick Thought Experiments|
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