Many epistemologists use intuitive responses to particular cases as evidence for their theories. Recently, experimental philosophers have challenged the evidential value of intuitions, suggesting that our responses to particular cases are unstable, inconsistent with the responses of the untrained, and swayed by factors such as ethnicity and gender. This paper presents evidence that neither gender nor ethnicity influence epistemic intuitions, and that the standard responses to Gettier cases and the like are widely shared. It argues that epistemic intuitions are produced (...) by the natural ‘mindreading’ capacity that underpins ordinary attributions of belief and knowledge in everyday social interaction. Although this capacity is fallible, its weaknesses are similar to the weaknesses of natural capacities such as sensory perception. Experimentalists who do not wish to be skeptical about ordinary empirical methods have no good reason to be skeptical about epistemic intuitions. (shrink)
The phenomenology of a priori intuition is explored at length (where a priori intuition is taken to be not a form of belief but rather a form of seeming, specifically intellectual as opposed to sensory seeming). Various reductive accounts of intuition are criticized, and Humean empiricism (which, unlike radical empiricism, does admit analyticity intuitions as evidence) is shown to be epistemically self-defeating. This paper also recapitulates the defense of the thesis of the Autonomy and Authority of Philosophy (...) given in the author’s “A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy” (Philosophical Studies, 1996). (shrink)
What are intuitions? According to doxastic views, they are doxastic attitudes or dispositions, such as judgments or inclinations to make judgments. According to perceptualist views, they are—like perceptual experiences—pre-doxastic experiences that—unlike perceptual experiences—represent abstract matters as being a certain way. In this paper I argue against doxasticism and in favor of perceptualism. I describe two features that militate against doxasticist views of perception itself: perception is belief-independent and perception is presentational. Then I argue that intuitions also have both features. The (...) upshot is that intuitions are importantly similar to perceptual experiences, and so should not be identified with doxastic attitudes or dispositions. I consider a popular argument from the introspective absence of sui generis intuition experiences in favor of doxasticism. I develop a conception of intuition experiences that helps to defuse this argument. (shrink)
In recent years a growing number of philosophers writing about the methodology of philosophy have defended the surprising claim that philosophers do not use intuitions as evidence. In this paper I defend the contrary view that philosophers do use intuitions as evidence. I argue that this thesis is the best explanation of several salient facts about philosophical practice. First, philosophers tend to believe propositions which they find intuitive. Second, philosophers offer error theories for intuitions that conflict with their theories. Finally, (...) philosophers are more confident in rejecting theories to the extent that they have several counter examples involving diverse cases. I argue that these facts are better explained by philosophers' using intuitions as evidence than by any plausible contrary explanations. I further argue that aspects of philosophical practice that my thesis may initially seem ill-suited to explain are in fact unsurprising whether or not my thesis is true. (shrink)
This book is concerned with the role of intuitions in the justification of philosophical theory. The author begins by demonstrating how contemporary philosophers, whether engaged in case-driven analysis or seeking reflective equilibrium, rely on intuitions as evidence for their theories. The author then provides an account of the nature of philosophical intuitions and distinguishes them from other psychological states. Finally, the author defends the use of intuitions as evidence by demonstrating that arguments for skepticism about their evidential value are either (...) self-defeating or guilty of arbitrary and unjustified partiality towards non-intuitive modes of knowledge. (shrink)
Elijah Chudnoff elaborates and defends a view of intuition according to which intuition purports to, and reveals, how matters stand in abstract reality by making us aware of that reality through the intellect. He explores the experience of having an intuition; justification for beliefs that derives from intuition; and contact with abstract reality.
Intuitive judgments elicited by verbal case-descriptions play key roles in philosophical problem-setting and argument. Experimental philosophy's ‘sources project’ seeks to develop psychological explanations of philosophically relevant intuitions which help us assess our warrant for accepting them. This article develops a psycholinguistic explanation of intuitions prompted by philosophical case-descriptions. For proof of concept, we target intuitions underlying a classic paradox about perception, trace them to stereotype-driven inferences automatically executed in verb comprehension, and employ a forced-choice plausibility-ranking task to elicit the relevant (...) stereotypical associations of perception- and appearance-verbs. We obtain a debunking explanation that resolves the philosophical paradox. (shrink)
Intuitions play a critical role in analytical philosophical activity. But do they qualify as genuine evidence for the sorts of conclusions philosophers seek? Skeptical arguments against intuitions are reviewed, and a variety of ways of trying to legitimate them are considered. A defense is offered of their evidential status by showing how their evidential status can be embedded in a naturalistic framework.
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)
‘Intuition deniers’ are those who—like Timothy Williamson, Max Deutsch, Herman Cappelen and a few others—reject the claim that philosophers centrally rely on intuitions as evidence. This ‘Centrality’ hypothesis, as Cappelen terms it, is standardly endorsed both by traditionalists and by experimental philosophers. Yet the intuition deniers claim that Centrality is false—and they generally also suggest that this undermines the significance of experimental philosophy. Three primary types of anti-Centrality argument have cross-cut the literature thus far. These arguments, I’ll claim, (...) have differing potential consequences on metaphilosophical debate. The first sort of argument centers on worries about the term ‘intuition’—for instance, worries about whether it has clear application, or whether anything actually falls under it. Call this the Argument from Unclear Application. The second argument type involves the claim that evidence in philosophy consists not of facts about intuitions, but of facts about e.g. knowledge and causation. Call this the Argument from Antipsychologism. The third type involves an attempt to demonstrate that philosophers support their claims not via bald appeal to intuition, but via argumentation. Call this the Argument from Argumentation. Although these three arguments have merit, none of them undermines the importance of experimental philosophy. Nonetheless, they do have significant consequences for the methodological debates that dominate meta-philosophy, and for experimental philosophy in particular. (shrink)
Advocates of the use of intuitions in philosophy argue that they are treated as evidence because they are evidential. Their opponents agree that they are treated as evidence, but argue that they should not be so used, since they are the wrong kinds of things. In contrast to both, we argue that, despite appearances, intuitions are not treated as evidence in philosophy whether or not they should be. Our positive account is that intuitions are a subclass of inclinations to believe. (...) Our thesis explains why intuitions play a role in persuasion and inquiry, without conceding that they are evidential. The account also makes predictions about the structure of intuitions that are confirmed by independent arguments. (shrink)
How do we determine whether some candidate causal factor is an actual cause of some particular outcome? Many philosophers have wanted a view of actual causation which fits with folk intuitions of actual causation and those who wish to depart from folk intuitions of actual causation are often charged with the task of providing a plausible account of just how and where the folk have gone wrong. In this paper, I provide a range of empirical evidence aimed at showing just (...) how and where the folk go wrong in determining whether an actual causal relation obtains. The evidence suggests that folk intuitions of actual causation are generated by two epistemically defective processes. I situate the empirical evidence within a background discussion of debunking, arguing for a two-pronged debunking explanation of folk intuitions of actual causation. I conclude that those who wish to depart from folk intuitions of actual causation should not be compelled to square their account of actual causation with the verdicts of the folk. In the dispute over actual causation, folk intuitions deserve to be rejected. (shrink)
In this thesis I seek to advance our understanding of what intuitions are. I argue that intuitions are experiences of a certain kind. In particular, they are experiences with representational content, and with a certain phenomenal character. -/- In Chapter 1 I identify our target and provide some important reliminaries. Intuitions are mental states, but which ones? Giving examples helps: a person has an intuition when it seems to her that torturing the innocent is wrong, or that if something (...) is red it is coloured. We can also provide an initial characterisation of the state by saying that it has representational content, often causes belief, and appears to justify belief. In addition, there is something it is like to have an intuition: intuition has a certain phenomenal character. -/- Some argue that intuition does not explain anything which cannot be explained by other mental states. One version of this view takes intuition to reduce to belief. In Chapter 2 I argue that this entails that agents are rationally criticisable in situations where we know they are not, and that such views are therefore untenable. A parallel argument shows that the corresponding approach to perception fails. This suggests a similarity in nature: both intuition and perception are experiences. -/- Others take intuition to reduce to a disposition to have a belief. In Chapter 3 I consider a line of argument against such views, find it unsuccessful, and present two new arguments. One is likely to be dialectically ineffective. The other suffers no such weakness: it shows that the proposed reduction fails. As before, the argument also applies to perception, and suggests that intuition and perception are both experiences. -/- In the remainder of the thesis I develop an account of intuition as an experience. I distinguish between content-specific and attitude-specific phenomenology, and argue that intuition lacks the former (Chapter 4), but has the latter (Chapter 5). This allows us to say what intuition is: it is is an experience with representational content and with attitude-specific phenomenology of a certain kind. -/- In Chapter 6 I put this account of intuition to use. When a person has a perceptual or intuitional experience, I argue that simply having the experience is what makes the subject justified in believing what the experience represents. Moreover, what explains that intuition and perception can justify belief in this way is precisely their phenomenal character. (shrink)
The standard view of philosophical methodology is that philosophers rely on intuitions as evidence. Herman Cappelen argues that this claim is false: it is not true that philosophers rely extensively on intuitions as evidence. At worst, analytic philosophers are guilty of engaging in somewhat irresponsible use of 'intuition'-vocabulary. While this irresponsibility has had little effect on first order philosophy, it has fundamentally misled meta-philosophers: it has encouraged meta-philosophical pseudo-problems and misleading pictures of what philosophy is.
Experimental restrictionists have challenged philosophers’ reliance on intuitions about thought experiment cases based on experimental findings. According to the expertise defense, only the intuitions of philosophical experts count—yet the bulk of experimental philosophy consists in studies with lay people. In this paper, we argue that direct strategies for assessing the expertise defense are preferable to indirect strategies. A direct argument in support of the expertise defense would have to show: first, that there is a significant difference between expert and lay (...) intuitions; second, that expert intuitions are superior to lay intuitions; and third, that expert intuitions accord with the relevant philosophical consensus. At present, there is only little experimental evidence that bears on these issues. To advance the debate, we conducted two new experiments on intuitions about knowledge with experts and lay people. Our results suggest that the intuitions of epistemological experts are superior in some respects, but they also pose an unexpected challenge to the expertise defense. Most strikingly, we found that even epistemological experts tend to ascribe knowledge in fake-barn-style cases. This suggests that philosophy, as a discipline, might fail to adequately map the intuitions of its expert practitioners onto a disciplinary consensus. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers have empirically challenged the connection between intuition and philosophical expertise. This paper reviews these challenges alongside other research findings in cognitive science on expert performance and argues for three claims. First, evidence taken to challenge philosophical expertise may also be explained by the well-researched failures and limitations of genuine expertise. Second, studying the failures and limitations of experts across many fields provides a promising research program upon which to base a new model of philosophical expertise. Third, a (...) model of philosophical expertise based on the limitations of genuine experts may suggest a series of constraints on the reliability of professional philosophical intuition. Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken. — Bertrand Russell, On the Value of Scepticism. (shrink)
Ancients and moderns alike have constructed arguments and assessed theories on the basis of common sense and intuitive judgments. Yet, despite the important role intuitions play in philosophy, there has been little reflection on fundamental questions concerning the sort of data intuitions provide, how they are supposed to lead us to the truth, and why we should treat them as important. In addition, recent psychological research seems to pose serious challenges to traditional intuition-driven philosophical inquiry. Rethinking Intuition brings (...) together a distinguished group of philosophers and psychologists to discuss these important issues. Students and scholars in both fields will find this book to be of great value. (shrink)
1. What are called ‘intuitions’ in philosophy are just applications of our ordinary capacities for judgement. We think of them as intuitions when a special kind of scepticism about those capacities is salient. 2. Like scepticism about perception, scepticism about judgement pressures us into conceiving our evidence as facts about our internal psychological states: here, facts about our conscious inclinations to make judgements about some topic rather than facts about the topic itself. But the pressure should be resisted, for it (...) rests on bad epistemology: specifically, on an impossible ideal of unproblematically identifiable evidence. 3. Our resistance to scepticism about judgement is not simply epistemic conservativism, for we resist it on behalf of others as well as ourselves. A reason is needed for thinking that beliefs tend to be true. 4. Evolutionary explanations of the tendency assume what they should explain. Explanations that appeal to constraints on the determination of reference are more promising. Davidson’s truth-maximizing principle of charity is examined but rejected. 5. An alternative principle is defended on which the nature of reference is to maximize knowledge rather than truth. It is related to an externalist conception of mind on which knowing is the central mental state. 6. The knowledge-maximizing principle of charity explains why scenarios for scepticism about judgement do not warrant such scepticism, although it does not explain how we know in any particular case. We should face the fact that evidence is always liable to be contested in philosophy, and stop using talk of intuition to disguise this unpleasant truth from ourselves. (shrink)
The finding that intuitions about the reference of proper names vary cross-culturally was one of the early milestones in experimental philosophy. Many follow-up studies investigated the scope and magnitude of such cross-cultural effects, but our paper provides the first systematic meta-analysis of studies replicating. In the light of our results, we assess the existence and significance of cross-cultural effects for intuitions about the reference of proper names.
This entry addresses the nature and epistemological role of intuition by considering the following questions: (1) What are intuitions?, (2) What roles do they serve in philosophical (and other “armchair”) inquiry?, (3) Ought they serve such roles?, (4) What are the implications of the empirical investigation of intuitions for their proper roles?, and (5) What is the content of intuitions prompted by the consideration of hypothetical cases?
: Psychological explanations of philosophical intuitions can help us assess their evidentiary value, and our warrant for accepting them. To explain and assess conceptual or classificatory intuitions about specific situations, some philosophers have suggested explanations which invoke heuristic rules proposed by cognitive psychologists. The present paper extends this approach of intuition assessment by heuristics-based explanation, in two ways: It motivates the proposal of a new heuristic, and shows that this metaphor heuristic helps explain important but neglected intuitions: general factual (...) intuitions which have been highly influential in the philosophies of mind and perception but neglected in on-going debates in the epistemology of philosophy. To do so, the paper integrates results from three philosophically pertinent but hitherto largely unconnected strands of psychological research: research on intuitive judgement, analogy and metaphor, and memory-based processing, respectively. The paper shows that the heuristics-based explanation thus obtained satisfies the key requirements cognitive psychologists impose on such explanations, that it can explain the philosophical intuitions targeted, and that this explanation supports normative assessment of the intuitions' evidentiary value: It reveals whether particular intuitions are due to proper exercise of cognitive competencies or constitute cognitive illusions. (shrink)
In this paper I assume that we have some intuitive knowledge—i.e. beliefs that amount to knowledge because they are based on intuitions. The question I take up is this: given that some intuition makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do so? We can ask a similar question about perception. That is: given that some perception makes a belief based on it amount to knowledge, in virtue of what does it do (...) so? A natural idea about perception is that a perception makes a belief amount to knowledge in part by making you sensorily aware of the concrete objects it is about. The analogous idea about intuition is that an intuition makes a belief amount to knowledge in part by making you intellectually aware of the abstract objects it is about. I expand both ideas into fuller accounts of perceptual and intuitive knowledge, explain the main challenge to this sort of account of intuitive knowledge (i.e. the challenge of making sense of intellectual awareness), and develop a response to it. (shrink)
Linguistic intuitions are a central source of evidence across a variety of linguistic domains. They have also long been a source of controversy. This chapter aims to illuminate the etiology and evidential status of at least some linguistic intuitions by relating them to error signals of the sort posited by accounts of on-line monitoring of speech production and comprehension. The suggestion is framed as a novel reply to Michael Devitt’s claim that linguistic intuitions are theory-laden “central systems” responses, rather than (...) endorsed outputs of a modularized language faculty (the “Voice of Competence”). Along the way, it is argued that linguistic intuitions may not constitute a natural kind with a common etiology; and that, for a range of cases, the process by which intuitions used in linguistics are generated amounts to little more than comprehension. (shrink)
Recent work by Joshua Knobe indicates that people’s intuition about whether an action was intentional depends on whether the outcome is good or bad. This paper argues that part of the explanation for this effect is that there are stable individual differences in how ‘intentional’ is interpreted. That is, in Knobe’s cases, different people interpret the term in different ways. This interpretive diversity of ‘intentional’ opens up a new avenue to help explain Knobe’s results. Furthermore, the paper argues that (...) the use of intuitions in philosophy is complicated by fact that there are robust individual differences in intuitions about matters of philosophical concern. (shrink)
In philosophical thought experiments, as in ordinary discourse, our understanding of verbal case descriptions is enriched by automatic comprehension inferences. Such inferences have us routinely infer what else is also true of the cases described. We consider how such routine inferences from polysemous words can generate zombie intuitions: intuitions that are ‘killed’ (defeated) by contextual information but kept cognitively alive by the psycholinguistic phenomenon of linguistic salience bias. Extending ‘evidentiary’ experimental philosophy, this paper examines whether the ‘zombie argument’ against materialism (...) is built on zombie intuitions. We examine the hypothesis that contextually defeated stereotypical inferences from the noun ‘zombie’ influence intuitions about ‘philosophical zombies’. We document framing effects (‘zombie’ vs ‘duplicate’) predicted by the hypothesis. Findings undermine intuitions about the conceivability of ‘philosophical zombies’ and address the philosophical ‘hard problem of consciousness’. Findings support a deflationary response: The impression that principled obstacles prevent scientific explanation of how physical processes give rise to conscious experience is generated by philosophical arguments that rely on epistemically deficient intuitions. (shrink)
In Philosophy Without Intuitions, Herman Cappelen focuses on the metaphilosophical thesis he calls Centrality: contemporary analytic philosophers rely on intuitions as evidence for philosophical theories. Using linguistic and textual analysis, he argues that Centrality is false. He also suggests that because most philosophers accept Centrality, they have mistaken beliefs about their own methods.To put my own views on the table: I do not have a large theoretical stake in the status of intuitions, but unreflectively I find it fairly obvious that (...) many philosophers, including myself, appeal to intuitions. Cappelen’s arguments make a provocative challenge to this unreflective background conception. So it is interesting to work through the arguments to see what they might and might not show.In what follows I aim to articulate a minimal notion of intuition that captures something of the core everyday philosophical usage of the term, and that captures the sense .. (shrink)
I address a criticism of the use of thought experiments in conceptual analysis advanced on the basis of the survey method of so-called experimental philosophy. The criticism holds that surveys show that intuitions are relative to cultures in a way that undermines the claim that intuition-based investigation yields any objective answer to philosophical questions. The crucial question is what intuitions are as philosophers have been interested in them. To answer this question we look at the role of intuitions in (...) philosophical inquiry. When we have done this, we can see that it is impossible for intuitions properly understood to be relative in the way that has been suggested as they are conceived of as expressions of competence in the concepts deployed in their contents. The remaining methodological issues, though not to be dismissed, present no in principle objection to the method of thought experiments. (shrink)
This paper relies on experimental methods to explore the psychological underpinnings of folk intuitions about free will and responsibility. In different conditions, people give conflicting responses about agency and responsibility. In some contexts, people treat agency as indeterminist; in other contexts, they treat agency as determinist. Furthermore, in some contexts people treat responsibility as incompatible with determinism, and in other contexts people treat responsibility as compatible with determinism. The paper considers possible accounts of the psychological mechanisms that underlie these conflicting (...) responses. (shrink)
Moral and political philosophers commonly appeal to moral “intuitions” at crucial points in their reasoning. This chapter considers recent challenges to this practice—here referred to as “the Method”—based in empirical studies of moral intuitions. It contends that such studies do not justify radical or revisionary conclusions about the Method. A method is aimed at achieving certain goals. The key issue is the nature of the goals in relation to which the Method is to be evaluated. This chapter argues that the (...) relevant goal is not the “realist goal” of discovering the truth about moral and political matters. The central point is that, the chapter argues, the systematic philosophical study of moral and political questions would be worthwhile even if it turned out that moral realism cannot be vindicated or that the Method cannot be vindicated in relation to the realist goal. If this is correct, then the goal relative to which it is crucial to vindicate the Method is not the realist goal. A Rawlsian view is more plausible, according to which the relevant goal is to “characterize our moral sensibility” as it would be in “reflective equilibrium.” It turns out, however, that this Rawlsian view has some, perhaps unwelcome, deflationary implications. (shrink)
Linguists often advert to what are sometimes called linguistic intuitions. These intuitions and the uses to which they are put give rise to a variety of philosophically interesting questions: What are linguistic intuitions – for example, what kind of attitude or mental state is involved? Why do they have evidential force and how might this force be underwritten by their causal etiology? What light might their causal etiology shed on questions of cognitive architecture – for example, as a case study (...) of how consciously inaccessible subpersonal processes give rise to conscious states, or as a candidate example of cognitive penetrability? What methodological issues arise concerning how linguistic intuitions are gathered and interpreted – for example, might some subjects' intuitions be more reliable than others? And what bearing might all this have on philosophers' own appeals to intuitions? This paper surveys and critically discusses leading answers to these questions. In particular, we defend a ‘mentalist’ conception of linguistics and the role of linguistic intuitions therein. (shrink)
Within the existing metaphilosophical literature on experimental philosophy, a great deal of attention has been devoted to the claim that there are large differences in philosophical intuitions between people of different demographic groups. Some philosophers argue that this claim has important metaphilosophical implications; others argue that it does not. However, the actual empirical work within experimental philosophy seems to point to a very different sort of metaphilosophical question. Specifically, what the actual empirical work suggests is that intuitions are surprisingly robust (...) across demographic groups. Prior to empirical study, it seemed plausible that unexpected patterns of intuition found in one demographic group would not emerge in other demographic groups. Yet, again and again, empirical work obtains the opposite result: that unexpected patterns found in one demographic group actually emerge also in other demographic groups. I cite 30 studies that find this sort of robustness. I then argue that to the extent that metaphilosophical work is to engage with the actual findings from experimental philosophy, it needs to explore the implications of the surprising robustness of philosophical intuitions across demographic differences. (shrink)
There are ways that ethical intuitions might be, and the various possibilities have epistemic ramifications. This paper criticizes some extant accounts of what ethical intuitions are and how they justify, and it offers an alternative account. Roughly, an ethical intuition that p is a kind of seeming state constituted by a consideration whether p, attended by positive phenomenological qualities that count as evidence for p, and so a reason to believe that p. They are distinguished from other kinds of (...) seemings, such as those which are content driven (e.g., the sensory experience that a stick in water seems bent) and those which are competence driven (e.g., the intellectual seeming that XYZ is not water, or that one of DeMorgan’s laws is true). One important conclusion is this: when crafting a positive theory of justification ethical intuitionists have fewer resources than intuitionists in other domains, not because of the subject matter of ethical intuitions, but because of the their structure. A second conclusion is that the seemings featured in substantive ethical intuitions deliver relatively weak justification as compared to other seeming states. (shrink)
Intuition in medical and moral reasoning -- Moral intuitionism -- The place of Aristotelian phronesis in clinical reasoning -- Aristotle's practical syllogism: accounting for the individual through a theory of action and cognition -- Individual and statistical physiognomy: the art and science of making the invisible visible -- Clinical intuition versus statistical reasoning -- Contingency and correlation: the significance of modeling clinical reasoning on statistics -- Abduction: the intuitive support of clinical induction -- Conclusion: medical ethics beyond ontology.
In Philosophy Without Intuitions Herman Cappelen argues that unlike what is commonly thought, contemporary analytic philosophers do not typically rely on intuitions as evidence. If they do indeed rely on intuitions, that should be evident from their written works, either explicitly in the form of ‘intuition’ talk or by means of other indicators. However, Cappelen argues, while philosophers do engage in ‘intuition’ talk, that is not a good indicator that they rely on intuitions, as ‘intuition’ and its (...) cognates have many meanings that are irrelevant to this particular question. He identifies three other indicators and argues by appeal to case studies that these indicators are not present. I argue here that an account of intuitions as intellectual seemings draws attention to intuition features that Cappelen does not consider. These intuition features appear to be regularly present in the works of contemporary analytic philosophers. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that appeals to intuition are strong arguments just in case there is an agreement among the relevant philosophers concerning the intuition in question. Otherwise, appeals to intuition are weak arguments.
Linguists take the intuitive judgments of speakers to be good evidence for a grammar. Why? The Chomskian answer is that they are derived by a rational process from a representation of linguistic rules in the language faculty. The paper takes a different view. It argues for a naturalistic and non-Cartesian view of intuitions in general. They are empirical central-processor responses to phenomena differing from other such responses only in being immediate and fairly unreflective. Applying this to linguistic intuitions yields an (...) explanation of their evidential role without any appeal to the representation of rules. Introduction The evidence for linguistic theories A tension in the linguists' view of intuitions Intuitions in general Linguistic intuitions Comparison of the modest explanation with the standard Cartesian explanation A nonstandard Cartesian explanation of the role of intuitions? Must linguistics explain intuitions? Conclusion. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers are often puzzled as to why many armchair philosophers question the philosophical significance of their research. Armchair philosophers, in contrast, are often puzzled as to why experimental philosophers think their work sheds any light on traditional philosophical problems. I argue there is truth on both sides.
For millennia, philosophers have speculated about the origins of ethics. Recent research in evolutionary psychology and the neurosciences has shed light on that question. But this research also has normative significance. A standard way of arguing against a normative ethical theory is to show that in some circumstances the theory leads to judgments that are contrary to our common moral intuitions. If, however, these moral intuitions are the biological residue of our evolutionary history, it is not clear why we should (...) regard them as having any normative force. Research in the neurosciences should therefore lead us to reconsider the role of intuitions in normative ethics. (shrink)
In a series of pre-registered studies, we explored (a) the difference between people’s intuitions about indeterministic scenarios and their intuitions about deterministic scenarios, (b) the difference between people’s intuitions about indeterministic scenarios and their intuitions about neurodeterministic scenarios (that is, scenarios where the determinism is described at the neurological level), (c) the difference between people’s intuitions about neutral scenarios (e.g., walking a dog in the park) and their intuitions about negatively valenced scenarios (e.g., murdering a stranger), and (d) the difference (...) between people’s intuitions about free will and responsibility in response to first-person scenarios and third-person scenarios. We predicted that once we focused participants’ attention on the two different abilities to do otherwise available to agents in indeterministic and deterministic scenarios, their intuitions would support natural incompatibilism—the view that laypersons judge that free will and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism. This prediction was borne out by our findings. (shrink)
Intuition serves a variety of roles in contemporary philosophy. This paper provides a historical discussion of the revival of intuition in the 1970s, untangling some of the ways that intuition has been used and offering some suggestions concerning its proper place in philosophical investigation. Contrary to some interpretations of the results of experimental philosophy, it is argued that generalized skepticism with respect to intuition is unwarranted. Intuition can continue to play an important role as part (...) of a methodologically conservative stance towards philosophical investigation. I argue that methodological conservatism should be sharply distinguished from the process of evaluating individual propositions. Nevertheless, intuition is not always a reliable guide to truth and experimental philosophy can serve a vital ameliorative role in determining the scope and limits of our intuitive competence with respect to various areas of inquiry. (shrink)
We naturally evaluate the beliefs of others, sometimes by deliberate calculation, and sometimes in a more immediate fashion. Epistemic intuitions are immediate assessments arising when someone’s condition appears to fall on one side or the other of some significant divide in epistemology. After giving a rough sketch of several major features of epistemic intuitions, this article reviews the history of the current philosophical debate about them and describes the major positions in that debate. Linguists and psychologists also study epistemic assessments; (...) the last section of the paper discusses some of their research and its potential relevance to epistemology. (shrink)
What exactly is a philosophical intuition? And what makes such an intuition reliable, when it is reliable? This paper provides a terminological framework that is able answer to the first question, and then puts the framework to work developing an answer to the second question. More specifically, the paper argues that we can distinguish between two different "evidential roles" which intuitions can occupy: under certain conditions they can provide information about the representational structure of an intuitor's concept, and (...) under different conditions, they can provide information about whether or not a property is instantiated. The paper describes two principles intended to capture the difference between the two sets of conditions---that is, the paper offers a principle that explains when an intuition will be a reliable source of evidence about the representation structure of an intuitor's concept, and another principle that explains when an intuition will be a reliable source of evidence about whether or not a property is instantiated. The paper concludes by briefly arguing that, insofar as philosophers are interested using intuitions to determine whether or not some philosophically interesting property is instantiated by some scenario (for instance, whether knowledge is instantiated in a Gettier-case), the reliability of the intuition in question does not depend on whether or not the intuition is widely shared. (shrink)
Action is not always guided by conscious deliberation; in many circumstances, we act intuitively rather than reflectively. Tamar Gendler (2014) contends that because intuitively guided action can lead us away from our reflective commitments, it limits the power of knowledge to guide action. While I agree that intuition can diverge from reflection, I argue that this divergence does not constitute a restriction on the power of knowledge. After explaining my view of the contrast between intuitive and reflective thinking, this (...) paper argues against the conclusions Gendler draws from empirical work on implicit bias. (shrink)
According to the most popular non-skeptical views about intuition, intuitions justify beliefs because they are based on understanding. More precisely: if intuiting that p justifies you in believing that p it does so because your intuition is based on your understanding of the proposition that p. The aim of this paper is to raise some challenges for accounts of intuitive justification along these lines. I pursue this project from a non-skeptical perspective. I argue that there are cases in (...) which intuiting that p justifies you in believing that p, but such that there is no compelling reason to think this is because your intuition is based on your understanding of the proposition that p. (shrink)
It is often called “the problem of free will and determinism,” as if the only thing that might challenge free will is determinism and as if determinism is obviously a problem. The traditional debates about free will have proceeded accordingly. Typically, incompatibilists about free will and determinism suggest that their position is intuitive or commonsensical, such that compatibilists have the burden of showing how, despite appearances, the problem of determinism is not really a problem. Compatibilists, in turn, tend to proceed (...) as if showing that determinism is not a problem thereby shows that we have free will, as if determinism is the only thing that might threaten free will. In this chapter, I reject both of these elements of the traditional debate; the question of whether we have free will should neither begin nor end with the so-called problem of determinism. I present and discuss evidence from a variety of studies that suggests that incompatibilism is not particularly intuitive. Most people do not have to be talked out of incompatibilism but rather talked into it. This provides some reasons—though certainly not decisive reasons—to think that compatibilism is true. I conclude by pointing out that, even if compatibilism were true, it would not dissolve the problem of free will, because there are problems other than determinism that need to be confronted—namely, challenges to free will suggested by current and “future science,” including neuroscience and psychology. The threats to free will suggested by these sciences are distinct from the traditional threat of determinism, and they are the ones that “ordinary persons” find intuitively threatening to free will. In fact, I will argue that the reason incompatibilism about free will and determinism appears to be intuitive is that determinism is often and easily misunderstood to involve these distinct threats to free will—threats that suggest that our rational, conscious mental activity is bypassed in the process of our making decisions and coming to act. (shrink)
Many philosophers claim that intuitions are evidential. Yet it is hard to see how introspecting one's mental states could provide evidence for such synthetic truths as those concerning, for example, the abstract and the counterfactual. Such considerations have sometimes been taken to lead to mentalism---the view that philosophy must concern itself only with matters of concept application or other mind-dependent topics suited to a contemplative approach---but this provides us with a poor account of what it is that philosophers take themselves (...) to be doing, for many of them are concerned with the extra-mental facts about the universe. Evidentialism therefore gestates a disaster for philosophy, for it ultimately demands an epistemology for the investigation into such matter as the abstract and the modal that simply will not be forthcoming. We make a different suggestion: That intuitions are inclinations to believe. Hence, according to us, a philosophical argument does well, as a socio-rhetorical matter of fact, when it is founded on premises philosophers are generally inclined to believe, whether or not those inclinations to believe connect appropriately to the extra-mental facts. Accordingly, the role of intuitions (inclinations to believe) in philosophical methodology is non-evidential, and the question of how they could be used as evidence falls away. (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)
This paper pioneers the use of methods and findings from psycholinguistics in experimental philosophy’s ‘sources project’. On this basis, it clarifies the epistemological relevance of empirical findings about intuitions – a key methodological challenge to experimental philosophy. The sources project (aka ‘cognitive epistemology of intuitions’) seeks to develop psychological explanations of philosophically relevant intuitions, which help us assess their evidentiary value. One approach seeks explanations which trace relevant intuitions back to automatic cognitive processes that are generally reliable but predictably generate (...) cognitive illusions under specific vitiating circumstances. The paper develops and experimentally tests such an explanation for intuitions at the root of a historically influential paradox about perception (‘argument from illusion’). The explanation traces these intuitions to stereotype-driven amplification, an automatic process routinely involved in language comprehension (e.g., understanding philosophical case-descriptions). Distributional semantics analysis and a forced-choice plausibility ranking task are employed to establish the relevant verb-associated stereotypes. The paper argues that the inferences facilitated by these stereotypes are generally reliable, but shows that vitiating circumstances obtain in the formulation of the targeted paradox. On this basis, the paper explores two complementary strategies for assessing the evidentiary value of intuitive judgments. (shrink)
This study will examine the ontological dependency between the thinking act of the intellect and the intelligibility of the objects of thought. Whereas the intellectual tradition prior to Duns Scotus grounds the formation of the objects of thought and our ability to understand them with certainty in different forms of participation in the divine intellect, Scotus shows that the intelligibility of the objects of thought is internal to them alone and is not dependent on participation.