Who is Afraid of Commitment? On the Relation of Scientific Evidence and Conceptual Theory

Erkenntnis 83 (3):477-500 (2018)
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Can scientific evidence prompt us to revise philosophical theories or folk theoretical accounts of phenomena of the mind? We will argue that it can—but only under the condition that they make a so-called ‘ontological commitment’ to something that is actually subject to empirical inquiry. In other words, scientific evidence pertaining to neuroanatomical structure or causal processes only has a refuting effect if philosophical theories and folk notions subscribe to either account. We will illustrate the importance of ‘ontological commitment’ with the ‘neuroanatomical approach’ to amusement as proposed in a recent paper by Palencik :419–434, 2007). We will show that the scientific evidence presented in said neuroanatomical approach has no bearing on the conceptual issues, in that the philosophical theories and folk distinction that are criticized do not subscribe to any account of the underlying neuroanatomical structure or causal processes. Our suggestions in this paper are not limited to philosophical accounts of humor but apply to the relationship of philosophy, common sense and science in general.



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Author Profiles

Joachim Lipski
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München (PhD)
Steffen Steinert
Delft University of Technology

Citations of this work

The united shades of eliminative materialism.Serdal Tümkaya - 2022 - Philosophical Forum 53 (2):95-113.
Churchland, Nagel, and Their Severe Critique of Folk Psychology.Serdal Tümkaya - 2021 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (40):5-27.

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Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Ontological relativity and other essays.Willard Van Orman Quine (ed.) - 1969 - New York: Columbia University Press.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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