Synthese 191 (16):3865-3896 (2014)
AbstractThis paper aims to clarify a debate on philosophical method, and to give a probabilistic argument vindicating armchair philosophy under a wide range of plausible assumptions. The use of intuitions by so-called armchair philosophers has been criticized on empirical grounds. The debate between armchair philosophers and their empirical critics would benefit from greater clarity and precision in our understanding of what it takes for intuition-based approaches to philosophy to make sense. This paper discusses a set of rigorous, probability-based tools for determining what we can and cannot learn from intuitions in various conditions. These tools can tell us whether beliefs can be justified by armchair practices, and what empirical findings would have to show to undermine the use of intuitions in philosophy. Using these tools, the paper shows that armchair philosophy makes sense in a broad range of situations, and that it is quite plausible that we are in those situations at the moment
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