Dissertation, University of Nottingham (2013)

James Andow
University of East Anglia
In recent decades, intuitions' role in philosophy has been hotly debated. Many claim intuitions play an important role. Others, some armed with data, challenge the use of intuitions. This thesis reflects on this debate and advances the debate in two main ways. Having a clear understanding of the challenge which intuition-use in philosophy faces is important. Part I focuses on this. Chapters 1-2 introduce the topic of intuitions, motivate the methodological study of intuitions, and present the historical background to recent empirical challenges to intuition-use. Chapters 3-5 concern the contemporary challenge. I present the empirical evidence the challenge uses, present what I argue to be the strongest version of the challenge, and defend that challenge against some objections. How one characterises intuitions is incredibly important in philosophical methodology. If we are to properly evaluate philosophical methods vis-a-vis their use of something called intuitions { if we are to assess the empirical challenge { it is important to be clear exactly what we mean by `intuitions'. Part II focuses on this. Chapter 6 argues there is little consensus among philosophers as to what intuitions are and their role in philosophy. Chapter 7 questions whether philosophers have developed an idiolect in which `intuition' has distinctive meaning | as frequently supposed. Chapter 8 points out a common misunderstanding about intuitions in philosophy; using quantitative tools to challenge the idea that an increased use of `intuition' in philosophy is the result of an increased use of intuition. So, the developing picture is one of confusion, without a clear idea of what sense of `intuition' is important. Fortunately, Chapter 9 sets us back on the right track. It sets out a positive programme for evaluative methodology: methodologists should adopt a permissive conception of intuitions and make fine distinctions between different intuitions, so long as we can track those distinctions while philosophising.
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