Intuition and inquiry


My dissertation examines prominent arguments for and against the use of intuition in philosophical theorizing. Many of the concerns I raise involve areas of oversimplification - particularly concerning the relationship between the reliability of our intuitions and their evidential status. Specifically, I argue that there are two primary barriers to framing the intuition debate as a simple question about whether intuitions are either unreliable and therefore wholly unsuitable for use in philosophy, or reliable and therefore always suitable for philosophical use. The first of these barriers involves the widespread assumption that intuition forms a fairly cohesive, fairly natural mental kind which can be usefully evaluated for reliability. The second involves the assumption that anyone who questions the suitability of intuitions as evidence must deny that intuitions are reliable enough to constitute knowledge. A further theme of my dissertation involves the relationship between the categories delineated by our intuitive classifications and the categories which serve as the targets of philosophical investigation. I examine two major approaches to this relationship - the ‘mentalist’ view, according to which the targets of philosophical analysis are our own concepts, and the ‘extramentalist’ view, according to which the targets of philosophy are external phenomena ‘in the world’. I conclude that both projects are legitimate, but that only the former justifies the commonly held view that there exists a sort of ‘constitutive’ relationship between intuitions and truth. Ultimately, I advocate a position according to which use of intuition in philosophy should be restricted, but not eliminated.

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Author's Profile

Jennifer Nado
University of Hong Kong

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Citations of this work

Do Different Groups Have Different Epistemic Intuitions? A Reply to Jennifer Nagel.Stephen Stich - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):151-178.

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