Many philosophers appeal to intuitions to support some philosophical views. However, there is reason to be concerned about this practice as scientific evidence has documented systematic bias in philosophically relevant intuitions as a function of seemingly irrelevant features (e.g., personality). One popular defense used to insulate philosophers from these concerns holds that philosophical expertise eliminates the influence of these extraneous factors. Here, we test this assumption. We present data suggesting that verifiable philosophical expertise in the free will debate-as measured by (...) a reliable and validated test of expert knowledge-does not eliminate the influence of one important extraneous feature (i.e., the heritable personality trait extraversion) on judgments concerning freedom and moral responsibility. These results suggest that, in at least some important cases, the expertise defense fails. Implications for the practice of philosophy, experimental philosophy, and applied ethics are discussed. (shrink)
Recently, there has been an increased interest in folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility from both philosophers and psychologists. We aim to extend our understanding of folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility using an individual differences approach. Building off previous research suggesting that there are systematic differences in folks’ philosophically relevant intuitions, we present new data indicating that the personality trait extraversion predicts, to a significant extent, those who have compatibilist versus incompatibilist intuitions. We argue that identifying groups (...) of people who have specific and diverse intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility offers the possibility for theoretical advancement in philosophy and psychology, and may in part explain why some perennial philosophical debates have proven intractable. (shrink)
Perhaps personality traits substantially influence one’s philosophically relevant intuitions. This suggestion is not only possible, it is consistent with a growing body of empirical research: Personality traits have been shown to be systematically related to diverse intuitions concerning some fundamental philosophical debates. We argue that this fact, in conjunction with the plausible principle that almost all adequate philosophical views should take into account all available and relevant evidence, calls into question some prominent approaches to traditional philosophical projects. To this end, (...) we present the Philosophical Personality Argument (PPA). We explain how it supports the growing body of evidence challenging some of the uses of intuitions in philosophy, and we defend it from some criticisms of empirically based worries about intuitions in philosophy. We conclude that the current evidence indicates that the PPA is sound, and thus many traditional philosophical projects that use intuitions must become substantially more empirically oriented. (shrink)
In the free will literature, some compatibilists and some incompatibilists claim that their views best capture ordinary intuitions concerning free will and moral responsibility. One goal of researchers working in the field of experimental philosophy has been to probe ordinary intuitions in a controlled and systematic way to help resolve these kinds of intuitional stalemates. We contribute to this debate by presenting new data about folk intuitions concerning freedom and responsibility that correct for some of the shortcomings of previous studies. (...) These studies also illustrate some problems that pertain to all of the studies that have been run thus far. (shrink)
Our theoretical understanding of individual differences can be used as a tool to test and refine theory. Individual differences are useful because judgments, including philosophically relevant intuitions, are the predictable products of the fit between adaptive psychological mechanisms (e.g., heuristics, traits, skills, capacities) and task constraints. As an illustration of this method and its potential implications, our target article used a canonical, representative, and affectively charged judgment task to reveal a relationship between the heritable personality trait extraversion and some compatabilist (...) judgments. In the current Reply, we further clarify major theoretical implications of these data and outline potential opportunities and obstacles for this methodology. Discussion focuses on (1) the need for theoretically grounded a priori predictions; (2) the use of precise process level data and theory; (3) the possibility of convergent validity as personality is known to predict life experiences and outcomes; and (4) the fundamentally adaptive nature of cognition. (shrink)
We explore and provide an account for a recently identified judgment anomaly, i.e., an order effect that changes the strength of intentionality ascriptions for some side effects (e.g., when a chairman's pursuit of profits has the foreseen but unintended consequence of harming the environment). Experiment 1 replicated the previously unanticipated order effect anomaly controlling for general individual differences. Experiment 2 revealed that the order effect was multiply determined and influenced by factors such as beliefs (i.e., that the same actor was (...) involved in bringing about both good and bad side effects) and philosophical training (i.e., more training was associated with smaller differences in judgment when harm followed help). Results provide more evidence that the folk's philosophically relevant intuitions are predictably fragmented and depend on the dynamic interplay between persons, process, and environments. Methodological and theoretical implications are discussed. (shrink)
Visual aids can improve comprehension of risks associated with medical treatments, screenings, and lifestyles. Do visual aids also help decision makers accurately assess their risk comprehension? That is, do visual aids help them become well calibrated? To address these questions, we investigated the benefits of visual aids displaying numerical information and measured accuracy of self-assessment of diagnostic inferences (i.e., metacognitive judgment calibration) controlling for individual differences in numeracy. Participants included 108 patients who made diagnostic inferences about three medical tests on (...) the basis of information about the sensitivity and false-positive rate of the tests and disease prevalence. Half of the patients received the information in numbers without a visual aid, while the other half received numbers along with a grid representing the numerical information. In the numerical condition, many patients --especially those with low numeracy-- misinterpreted the predictive value of the tests and profoundly overestimated the accuracy of their inferences. Metacognitive judgment calibration mediated the relationship between numeracy and accuracy of diagnostic inferences. In contrast, in the visual aid condition, patients at all levels of numeracy showed high-levels of inferential accuracy and metacognitive judgment calibration. Results indicate that accurate metacognitive assessment may explain the beneficial effects of visual aids and numeracy --a result that accords with theory suggesting that metacognition is an essential part of risk literacy. We conclude that well-designed risk communications can inform patients about health-relevant numerical information while helping them assess the quality of their own risk comprehension. (shrink)
It is commonly claimed that fully virtuous individuals cannot be ignorant and that everyday intuitions support this fact. Others maintain that there are virtues of ignorance and most people recognize them. Both views cannot be correct. We report evidence from three experiments suggesting that ignorance does not rule out folk attributions of virtue. Additionally, results show that many of these judgments can be predicted by one’s emotional stability—a heritable personality trait. We argue that these results are philosophically important for the (...) study of virtue and we discuss some of the ways individual differences may inform and facilitate current debates in ethics. We close with a cautionary argument detailing the risks of discounting some intuitions simply because they are associated with seemingly less desirable personality traits. (shrink)
Evaluational internalism holds that only features internal to agency (e.g., motivation) are relevant to attributions of virtue [Slote, M. (2001). Morals from motives. Oxford: Oxford University Press]. Evaluational externalism holds that only features external to agency (e.g., consequences) are relevant to attributions of virtue [Driver, J. (2001). Uneasy virtue. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press]. Many evaluational externalists and internalists claim that their view best accords with philosophically naïve (i.e., folk) intuitions, and that accordance provides argumentative support for their view. Evaluational internalism (...) and externalism are incompatible views and therefore it is impossible that both views are supported by most folk intuitions. In four experiments, we present evidence that neither pure evaluational internalism nor pure evaluational externalism accurately capture some relevant folk intuitions about virtue. However, our experiments suggest external factors are vastly more important than internal factors for folk attributions of virtue. While these data do not entail that evaluational internalism and externalism about virtue are false, they situate important argumentative burdens, constrain philosophical theory about virtue, and illustrate a valuable method that could foster more efficient progress in ethics. (shrink)
Heritable personality traits often predict fundamental philosophical disagreement. This conclusion is based on studies of more than 15,000 people sampled from diverse cultures and educational backgrounds, including verifiable experts. In this chapter, we review some of this research showing links between personality and philosophical bias in free will, intentional action, and ethics. Our discussion focuses on serious challenges that these philosophical biases pose (e.g., limits on the use of philosophical intuitions as evidence). We close with discussion of the Philosophical Personality (...) Argument and brief consideration of emerging projects in applied experimental philosophy. (shrink)
Although it makes some progress, McKay & Dennett's (M&D's) proposal is limited because (1) the argument for adaptive misbelief is not new, (2) arguments overextend the evidence provided, and (3) the alleged sufficient conditions are not as prohibitive as suggested. We offer alternative perspectives and evidence, including individual differences research, indicating that adaptive misbeliefs are likely much more widespread than implied.
Oaksford & Chater (O&C) focus on patterns of typical adult reasoning from a probabilistic perspective. We discuss implications of extending the probabilistic approach to lifespan development, considering the role of working memory, strategy use, and expertise. Explaining variations in human reasoning poses a challenge to Bayesian rational analysis, as it requires integrating knowledge about cognitive processes.
Some theorists argue that appropriate responses to terrorism are in part shaped by popular sentiment. In two experiments, using representative design and ecological stimuli (e.g. actual news reports), we present evidence for some of the ways popular sentiment about terrorism tracks theory and can be constructed. In Experiment 1, we document that using the word ‘terrorist’ to describe a group of people decreases willingness to understand the group's grievances, decreases willingness to negotiate with the group, increases perceived permissibility of violence (...) against the group, and decreases the perceived rationality of the group. In Experiment 2, we demonstrate that judgment about the permissibility of the use of force against terrorist groups can be biased by simple memory-priming manipulations. Results are interpreted in terms of (1) implications for philosophical theories about terrorism and (2) the role that experimental investigation can play in applied ethics. (shrink)