Nearly all philosophers agree that only true things can be known. One way to justify the truth condition in an analysis of knowledge is by appeal to the linguistic thesis that the word 'know' is factive. But does this principle reflect actual usage? Several examples in ordinary language seem to show that non-philosophers sometimes use 'know' in what appear to be non-factive ways, suggesting that the folk concept of knowledge is nonfactive. Presented here however, is a rival explanatory hypothesis for (...) these linguistic practices. The results of four experiments utilizing explicit paraphrasing tasks suggest that many seemingly non-factive uses of 'know' are better explained by a factive concept--together with a phenomenon known as protagonist projection--than by an ordinary concept that allows for knowledge under false belief. Thus it is argued that armchair philosophical orthodoxy regarding the factivity of knowledge withstands current empirical scrutiny. (shrink)
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.
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).
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 (...) age; older participants are less likely than younger participants to attribute knowledge in fake-barn cases. We also found that increasing the number of defeaters (fakes) does not decrease the inclination to attribute knowledge. (shrink)
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 (...) judgments about scientific progress. Our results suggest that (internal) justification plays an important role in intuitive judgments about progress, questioning the intuitive support for the claim that the concept of scientific progress is best explained in terms of the accumulation of true scientific belief. (shrink)
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 (...) ordinary knowledge attribution may include moral judgment. (shrink)
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 (...) findings by suggesting that (i) the solution to the mystery is not likely to be based on the empirical features these theorists identify, and (ii) that the salience of ascriber error continues to make the difference in folk ratings of third-person knowledge ascribing sentences. (shrink)
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 (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 to which those experiential (...) states are attributed. In two experiments, we demonstrate that ordinary attributions of subjective experience (of smell and felt emotions) to a simple robot are not sensitive to valence, but instead respond to functional assumptions about the entity to which the states are (or are not) attributed. (shrink)
In recent years, there has been much concern expressed about the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. Our goal in this paper is to call attention to a cluster of phenomena that may be contributing to this gender gap. The findings we review indicate that when women and men with little or no philosophical training are presented with standard philosophical thought experiments, in many cases their intuitions about these cases are significantly different. In section 1 we review some of the (...) data on the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. In section 2 we explain how we use the term 'intuition,' and offer a brief account of how intuitions are invoked in philosophical argument and philosophical theory building. In the third section we set out the evidence for gender differences in philosophical intuition and mention some evidence about gender differences in decisions and behaviors that are (or should be) of considerable interest to philosophers. In the fourth section, our focus changes from facts to hypotheses. In that section we explain how differences in philosophical intuition might be an important part of the explanation for the gender gap in philosophy. The fifth section is a brief conclusion. (shrink)
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 (...) a functional account. We also respond to two challenges to this view based on the embodiment hypothesis, or the claim that physical realizers matter over and above functional role, and qualia. In both cases we conclude that research to date best supports a functional account of ordinary mental state concepts. (shrink)
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), (...) and Buckwalter (2010)--which cast doubt on folk stakes sensitivity, and a second wave of empirical studies--due to Pinillos (2012) and Sripada & Stanley (2012)--said to vindicate it, as well as new studies of our own. We conclude that the balance of evidence to date best supports Folk stakes insensitivity, or that all else equal, stakes do not affect knowledge ascription. (shrink)
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 (...) factors like evidence and justification, a number of important non-truth-conducive factors play significant roles in determining when people ascribe knowledge. The present review focuses on four non-traditional factors: pragmatic load (in relation to contextualism and interest-relative invariantism), moral judgment, performance errors, and demographic variation. (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)
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)
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)
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.
If intuitions are associated with gender this might help to explain the fact that while the gender gap has disappeared in many other learned clubs, women are still seriously under-represented in the Philosophers Club. Since people who don’t have the intuitions that most club members share have a harder time getting into the club, and since the majority of Philosophers are now and always have been men, perhaps the under-representation of women is due, in part, to a selection effect.
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 (...) is further argued that these findings, while preliminary, have important implications for recent debates within epistemology about the relationship between knowledge and action. (shrink)
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 (...) facie skepticism for the contextualist hypothesis regarding folk knowledge claims, as well as challenge certain predictions made by recent theories of subject-sensitive invariantism. It is further argued that such results raise methodological questions concerning the practice of relying on an assumption of intuitions, with respect to ordinary language practices, as evidence for philosophical conclusions regarding knowledge. (shrink)