We examined the effects of order of presentation on the moral judgments of professional philosophers and two comparison groups. All groups showed similar‐sized order effects on their judgments about hypothetical moral scenarios targeting the doctrine of the double effect, the action‐omission distinction, and the principle of moral luck. Philosophers' endorsements of related general moral principles were also substantially influenced by the order in which the hypothetical scenarios had previously been presented. Thus, philosophical expertise does not appear to enhance the stability (...) of moral judgments against this presumably unwanted source of bias, even given familiar types of cases and principles. (shrink)
Do you dream in color? If you answer Yes, how can you be sure? Before you recount your vivid memory of a dream featuring all the colors of the rainbow, consider that in the 1950s researchers found that most people reported dreaming in black and white. In the 1960s, when most movies were in color and more people had color television sets, the vast majority of reported dreams contained color. The most likely explanation for this, according to the philosopher Eric (...) Schwitzgebel, is not that exposure to black-and-white media made people misremember their dreams. It is that we simply don't know whether or not we dream in color. In Perplexities of Consciousness, Schwitzgebel examines various aspects of inner life and argues that we know very little about our stream of conscious experience. Drawing broadly from historical and recent philosophy and psychology to examine such topics as visual perspective, and the unreliability of introspection, Schwitzgebel finds us singularly inept in our judgments about conscious experience. (shrink)
Most epistemologists hold that knowledge entails belief. However, proponents of this claim rarely offer a positive argument in support of it. Rather, they tend to treat the view as obvious and assert that there are no convincing counterexamples. We find this strategy to be problematic. We do not find the standard view obvious, and moreover, we think there are cases in which it is intuitively plausible that a subject knows some proposition P without—or at least without determinately—believing that P. Accordingly, (...) we present five plausible examples of knowledge without (determinate) belief, and we present empirical evidence suggesting that our intuitions about these scenarios are not atypical. (shrink)
People often sincerely assert or judge one thing (for example, that all the races are intellectually equal) while at the same time being disposed to act in a way evidently quite contrary to the espoused attitude (for example, in a way that seems to suggest an implicit assumption of the intellectual superiority of their own race). Such cases should be regarded as ‘in-between’ cases of believing, in which it's neither quite right to ascribe the belief in question nor quite right (...) to say that the person lacks the belief. (shrink)
We are prone to gross error, even in favorable circumstances of extended reflection, about our own ongoing conscious experience, our current phenomenology. Even in this apparently privileged domain, our self-knowledge is faulty and untrustworthy. We are not simply fallible at the margins but broadly inept. Examples highlighted in this essay include: emotional experience (for example, is it entirely bodily; does joy have a common, distinctive phenomenological core?), peripheral vision (how broad and stable is the region of visual clarity?), and the (...) phenomenology of thought (does it have a distinctive phenomenology, beyond just imagery and feelings?). Cartesian skeptical scenarios undermine knowledge of ongoing conscious experience as well as knowledge of the outside world. Infallible judgments about ongoing mental states are simply banal cases of self-fulfillment. Philosophical foundationalism supposing that we infer an external world from secure knowledge of our own consciousness is almost exactly backward. (shrink)
We examined the effects of framing and order of presentation on professional philosophers’ judgments about a moral puzzle case (the “trolley problem”) and a version of the Tversky & Kahneman “Asian disease” scenario. Professional philosophers exhibited substantial framing effects and order effects, and were no less subject to such effects than was a comparison group of non-philosopher academic participants. Framing and order effects were not reduced by a forced delay during which participants were encouraged to consider “different variants of the (...) scenario or different ways of describing the case”. Nor were framing and order effects lower among participants reporting familiarity with the trolley problem or with loss-aversion framing effects, nor among those reporting having had a stable opinion on the issues before participating the experiment, nor among those reporting expertise on the very issues in question. Thus, for these scenario types, neither framing effects nor order effects appear to be reduced even by high levels of academic expertise. (shrink)
On a remarkably thin base of evidence – largely the spectral analysis of points of light – astronomers possess, or appear to possess, an abundance of knowledge about the structure and history of the universe. We likewise know more than might even have been imagined a few centuries ago about the nature of physical matter, about the mechanisms of life, about the ancient past. Enormous theoretical and methodological ingenuity has been required to obtain such knowledge; it does not invite easy (...) discovery by the untutored. It may seem odd, then, that we have so little scientific knowledge of what lies closest at hand, apparently ripe for easy discovery, and of greatest importance for our quality of life: our own conscious experience – our sensory experiences and pains, for example, our inner speech and imagery, our felt emotion. Scientists know quite a bit about human visual capacities and the brain processes involved in vision, much less about the subjective experience of seeing; a fair bit about the physiology of emotion, almost nothing about its phenomenology. Philosophers began in earnest in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to describe and classify our patterns of conscious experience. John Locke, for instance, divided experienced “ideas” into those that arise from sensation and those that arise from reflection, and he began to classify them into. (shrink)
This paper describes and defends in detail a novel account of belief, an account inspired by Ryle's dispositional characterization of belief, but emphasizing irreducibly phenomenal and cognitive dispositions as well as behavioral dispositions. Potential externalist and functionalist objections are considered, as well as concerns motivated by the inevitably ceteris paribus nature of the relevant dispositional attributions. It is argued that a dispositional account of belief is particularly well-suited to handle what might be called "in-between" cases of believing - cases in (...) which it is neither quite right to describe a person as having a particular belief nor quite right to describe her as lacking it. (shrink)
If you’re a materialist, you probably think that rabbits are conscious. And you ought to think that. After all, rabbits are a lot like us, biologically and neurophysiologically. If you’re a materialist, you probably also think that conscious experience would be present in a wide range of naturally-evolved alien beings behaviorally very similar to us even if they are physiologically very different. And you ought to think that. After all, to deny it seems insupportable Earthly chauvinism. But a materialist who (...) accepts consciousness in weirdly formed aliens ought also to accept consciousness in spatially distributed group entities. If she then also accepts rabbit consciousness, she ought to accept the possibility of consciousness even in rather dumb group entities. Finally, the United States would seem to be a rather dumb group entity of the relevant sort. If we set aside our morphological prejudices against spatially distributed group entities, we can see that the United States has all the types of properties that materialists tend to regard as characteristic of conscious beings. (shrink)
For any proposition P, it may sometimes occur that a person is not quite accurately describable as believing that P, nor quite accurately describable as failing to believe that P. Such a person, I will say, is in an "in-between state of belief." This paper argues for the prevalence of in-between states of believing and asserts the need for an account of belief that allows us intelligibly to talk about in-between believing. It is suggested that Bayesian and representationalist approaches are (...) inadequate to the task and that a Rylean dispositional account of belief might do the trick. (shrink)
Do philosophy professors specializing in ethics behave, on average, any morally better than do other professors? If not, do they at least behave more consistently with their expressed values? These questions have never been systematically studied. We examine the self-reported moral attitudes and moral behavior of 198 ethics professors, 208 non-ethicist philosophers, and 167 professors in departments other than philosophy on eight moral issues: academic society membership, voting, staying in touch with one's mother, vegetarianism, organ and blood donation, responsiveness to (...) student emails, charitable giving, and honesty in responding to survey questionnaires. On some issues, we also had direct behavioral measures that we could compare with the self-reports. Ethicists expressed somewhat more stringent normative attitudes on some issues, such as vegetarianism and charitable donation. However, on no issue did ethicists show unequivocally better behavior than the two comparison groups. Our findings on attitude-behavior consistency were mixed: ethicists showed the strongest relationship between behavior and expressed moral attitude regarding voting but the weakest regarding charitable donation. We discuss implications for several models of the relationship between philosophical reflection and real-world moral behavior. (shrink)
If explicit cognition about morality promotes moral behavior then one might expect ethics professors to behave particularly well. However, professional ethicists' behavior has never been empirically studied. The present research examined the rates at which ethics books are missing from leading academic libraries, compared to other philosophy books similar in age and popularity. Study 1 found that relatively obscure, contemporary ethics books of the sort likely to be borrowed mainly by professors and advanced students of philosophy were actually about 50% (...) more likely to be missing than non-ethics books. Study 2 found that classic (pre-1900) ethics books were about twice as likely to be missing. (shrink)
We present several quantitative analyses of the prevalence and visibility of women in moral, political, and social philosophy, compared to other areas of philosophy, and how the situation has changed over time. Measures include faculty lists from the Philosophical Gourmet Report, PhD job placement data from the Academic Placement Data and Analysis project, the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates, conference programs of the American Philosophical Association, authorship in elite philosophy journals, citation in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and (...) extended discussion in abstracts from the Philosopher's Index. Our data strongly support three conclusions: (1) Gender disparity remains large in mainstream Anglophone philosophy; (2) ethics, construed broadly to include social and political philosophy, is closer to gender parity than are other fields in philosophy; and (3) women's involvement in philosophy has increased since the 1970s. However, by most measures, women's involvement and visibility in mainstream Anglophone philosophy has increased only slowly; and by some measures there has been virtually no gain since the 1990s. We find mixed evidence on the question of whether gender disparity is even more pronounced at the highest level of visibility or prestige than at more moderate levels of visibility or prestige. -/- . (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection tends to improve moral behaviour, one might expect that professional ethicists will, on average, behave morally better than non-ethicists. One potential source of insight into the moral behaviour of ethicists is philosophers' opinions about ethicists' behaviour. At the 2007 Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, we used chocolate to entice 277 passers-by to complete anonymous questionnaires without their knowing the topic of those questionnaires in advance. Version I of the questionnaire asked respondents to compare, (...) in general, the moral behaviour of ethicists to that of philosophers not specializing in ethics and to non-academics of similar social background. Version II asked respondents similar questions about the moral behaviour of the ethics specialist in their department whose name comes next in alphabetical order after their own. Both versions asked control questions about specialists in metaphysics and epistemology. The majority of respondents expressed the view that ethicists do not, on average, behave better than non-ethicists. Whereas ethicists tended to avoid saying that ethicists behave worse than non-ethicists, non-ethicists expressed that pessimistic view about as often as they expressed the view that ethicists behave better. (shrink)
We examine the self-reported moral attitudes and moral behavior of 198 ethics professors, 208 non-ethicist philosophers, and 167 professors in departments other than philosophy on eight moral issues: academic society membership, voting, staying in touch with one's mother, vegetarianism, organ and blood donation, responsiveness to student emails, charitable giving, and honesty in responding to survey questionnaires. On some issues we also had direct behavioral measures that we could compare with self-report. Ethicists expressed somewhat more stringent normative attitudes on some issues, (...) such as vegetarianism and charitable donation. However, on no issue did ethicists show significantly better behavior than the two comparison groups. Our findings on attitude-behavior consistency were mixed: Ethicists showed the strongest relationship between behavior and expressed moral attitude regarding voting but the weakest regarding charitable donation. (shrink)
There are possible artificially intelligent beings who do not differ in any morally relevant respect from human beings. Such possible beings would deserve moral consideration similar to that of human beings. Our duties to them would not be appreciably reduced by the fact that they are non-human, nor by the fact that they owe their existence to us. Indeed, if they owe their existence to us, we would likely have additional moral obligations to them that we don’t ordinarily owe to (...) human strangers – obligations similar to those of parent to child or god to creature. Given our moral obligations to such AIs, two principles for ethical AI design recommend themselves: (1) design AIs that tend to provoke reactions from users that accurately reflect the AIs’ real moral status, and (2) avoid designing AIs whose moral status is unclear. Since human moral intuition and moral theory evolved and developed in contexts without AI, those intuitions and theories might break down or become destabilized when confronted with the wide range of weird minds that AI design might make possible. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection improves moral behavior, one might expect ethics professors to behave morally better than socially similar non-ethicists. Under the assumption that forms of political engagement such as voting have moral worth, we looked at the rate at which a sample of professional ethicists—and political philosophers as a subgroup of ethicists—voted in eight years’ worth of elections. We compared ethicists’ and political philosophers’ voting rates with the voting rates of three other groups: philosophers not specializing in ethics, political (...) scientists, and a comparison group of professors specializing in neither philosophy nor political science. All groups voted at about the same rate, except for the political scientists, who voted about 10–15% more often. On the face of it, this finding conflicts with the expectation that ethicists will behave more responsibly than non-ethicists. (shrink)
“Mad belief” (in analogy with Lewisian “mad pain”) would be a belief state with none of the causal role characteristic of belief—a state not caused or apt to have been caused by any of the sorts of events that usually cause belief and involving no disposition toward the usual behavioral or other manifestations of belief. On token-functionalist views of belief, mad belief in this sense is conceptually impossible. Cases of delusion—or at least some cases of delusion—might be cases of belief (...) gone half-mad, cases in which enough of the functional role characteristic of belief is absent that the subject is in an “in-between” state regarding the delusive content, such that it is neither quite right to say the subject determinately believes the delusive content nor quite right to say that she determinately fails to believe that content. Although Bortolotti (2010) briefly mentions such “sliding scale” approaches to the relationship of delusion and belief, she dismisses such approaches on rather thin grounds and then later makes some remarks that seem consonant with sliding scale approaches. (shrink)
My thesis is: introspection is not a single process but a plurality of processes. It’s a plurality both within and between cases: most individual introspective judgments arise from a plurality ofprocesses (that’s the Within-case claim), and the collection of processes issuing in introspective judgments differs from case to case (that’s the between-case claim). Introspection is not the operation of a single cognitive mech- anism or small collection ofmechanisms. Introspective judgments arise from a shift- ing conﬂuence ofmany processes, recruited opportunistically.
I defend a how-possibly argument for Kantian transcendental idealism, drawing on concepts from David Chalmers, Nick Bostrom, and the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. If we are artificial intelligences living in a virtual reality instantiated on a giant computer, then the fundamental structure of reality might be very different than we suppose. Indeed, since computation does not require spatial properties, spatiality might not be a feature of things as they are in themselves but instead only the way that things necessarily (...) appear to us. It might seem unlikely that we are living in a virtual reality instantiated on a non-spatial computer. However, understanding this possibility can help us appreciate the merits of transcendental idealism in general, as well as transcendental idealism’s underappreciated skeptical consequences. (shrink)
According to rich views of consciousness (e.g., James, Searle), we have a constant, complex flow of experience (or 'phenomenology') in multiple modalities simultaneously. According to thin views (e.g., Dennett, Mack and Rock), conscious experience is limited to one or a few topics, regions, objects, or modalities at a time. Existing introspective and empirical arguments on this issue (including arguments from 'inattentional blindness') generally beg the question. Participants in the present experiment wore beepers during everyday activity. When a beep sounded, they (...) were to take note of the conscious experience, if any, they were having at the last undisturbed moment immediately prior to the beep. Some participants were asked to report any experience they could remember. Others were asked simply to report whether there was visual experience or not (and if so, what it was). Still others were asked about experience in the far right visual field, or tactile experience, or tactile experience in the left foot. A majority of participants in the full experience and the visual conditions reported visual experience in every single sample. Tactile and peripheral visual experience were reported less often. However, the proper interpretation of these results is uncertain. (shrink)
If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists. We examined three types of courteous and discourteous behavior at American Philosophical Association conferences: talking audibly while the speaker is talking (versus remaining silent), allowing the door to slam shut while entering or exiting mid-session (versus attempting to close the door quietly), and leaving behind clutter at the end of a session (versus leaving one's seat tidy). (...) By these three measures, audiences in ethics sessions did not appear to behave any more courteously than did audiences in non-ethics sessions. However, audiences in environmental ethics sessions did appear to leave behind less trash. (shrink)
Researchers from the 1940's through the present have found that normal, sighted people can echolocate - that is, detect properties of silent objects by attending to sound reflected from them. We argue that echolocation is a normal part of our conscious, perceptual experience. Despite this, we argue that people are often grossly mistaken about their experience of echolocation. If so, echolocation provides a counterexample to the view that we cannot be seriously mistaken about our own current conscious experience.
This chapter examines several ways in which philosophical attention to intuition can contribute to empirical scientific psychology. The authors then discuss one prevalent misuse of intuition. An unspoken assumption of much argumentation in the philosophy of mind has been that to articulate our folk psychological intuitions, our ordinary concepts of belief, truth, meaning, and so forth, is itself sufficient to give a theoretical account of what belief, truth, meaning, and so forth, actually are. It is believed that this assumption rests (...) on an inadequate understanding of the nature of intuition and its appropriate applications, and that it results in errors. Three notable examples of this sort of misuse of intuition in philosophy are briefly discussed. Finally, the authors provide developmental evidence for the mutability and fallibility of everyday intuitions about the mind, evidence that undermines arguments, that depend on taking such intuitions as a final authority for substantive claims about what the mind is like. (shrink)
In the 1950s, dream researchers commonly thought that dreams were predominantly a black and white phenomenon, although both earlier and later treatments of dreaming assume or assert that dreams have color. The first half of the twentieth century saw the rise of black and white film media, and it is likely that the emergence of the view that dreams are black and white was connected to this change in film technology. If our opinions about basic features of our dreams can (...) change with changes in technology, it seems to follow that our knowledge of the experience of dreaming is much less secure than we might at first have thought it to be. (shrink)
A 1% skeptic is someone who has about a 99% credence in non-skeptical realism and about a 1% credence in the disjunction of all radically skeptical scenarios combined. The first half of this essay defends the epistemic rationality of 1% skepticism, appealing to dream skepticism, simulation skepticism, cosmological skepticism, and wildcard skepticism. The second half of the essay explores the practical behavioral consequences of 1% skepticism, arguing that 1% skepticism need not be behaviorally inert.
We present evidence that mainstream Anglophone philosophy is insular in the sense that participants in this academic tradition tend mostly to cite or interact with other participants in this academic tradition, while having little academic interaction with philosophers writing in other languages. Among our evidence: In a sample of articles from elite Anglophone philosophy journals, 97% of citations are citations of work originally written in English; 96% of members of editorial boards of elite Anglophone philosophy journals are housed in majority-Anglophone (...) countries; and only one of the 100 most-cited recent authors in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy spent most of his career in non-Anglophone countries writing primarily in a language other than English. In contrast, philosophy articles published in elite Chinese-language and Spanish-language journals cite from a range of linguistic traditions, as do non-English-language articles in a convenience sample of established European-language journals. We also find evidence that work in English has more influence on work in other languages than vice versa and that when non-Anglophone philosophers cite recent work outside of their own linguistic tradition it tends to be work in English. (shrink)
Philosophers tend to be pretty impressed by human self-knowledge. Descartes (1641/1984) thought our knowledge of our own stream of experience was the secure and indubitable foundation upon which to build our knowledge of the rest of the world. Hume – who was capable of being skeptical about almost anything – said that the only existences we can be certain of are our own sensory and imagistic experiences (1739/1978, p. 212). Perhaps the most prominent writer on self-knowledge in contemporary philosophy is (...) Sydney Shoemaker. The central aim of much of his work has been to show that certain sorts of error are impossible (1963, 1988, 1994). David Chalmers has likewise attempted to show that, for a suitably constrained class of beliefs about one’s own consciousness, error is impossible (2003, sec. 4.1). Even philosophers most of the community thinks of as pessimistic about self-knowledge of consciousness seem to me, really, to be fairly optimistic. Paul Churchland, famous for his disdain of ordinary people’s knowledge about the mind, compares the accuracy of introspection to the accuracy of sense perception – pretty good, presumably, about medium-sized, nearby matters (1985, 1988). Dan Dennett, often cited as a pessimist about introspective report, actually says that we can come close to infallibility when charitably interpreted (2002). The above references concern knowledge of the stream of conscious experience, but philosophers have also tended to be impressed with our self-knowledge of our attitudes, such as our beliefs and desires. Consider this: Although I can be wrong about its being sunny outside, I can’t in the same way be wrong, it seems, about the fact that I think it’s sunny outside. Some.. (shrink)
The idea that the self is inextricably intertwined with the rest of the world—the “oneness hypothesis”—can be found in many of the world’s philosophical and religious traditions. Oneness provides ways to imagine and achieve a more expansive conception of the self as fundamentally connected with other people, creatures, and things. Such views present profound challenges to Western hyperindividualism and its excessive concern with self-interest and tendency toward self-centered behavior. This anthology presents a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary exploration of the nature and implications (...) of the oneness hypothesis. While fundamentally inspired by East and South Asian traditions, in which such a view often is critical to philosophical approach, this collection draws upon religion, psychology, and Western philosophy, as well as sociology, evolutionary theory, and cognitive neuroscience. Contributors trace the oneness hypothesis through the works of East Asian and Western thinkers and traditions, including Confucianism. Mohism, Daoism, Buddhism, Platonism, Zhuangzi, Kant, James, and Dewey. They intervene in debates over ethics, cultural difference, identity, group solidarity, and the positive and negative implications of metaphors of organic unity. Challenging dominant traditional views that presume the proper scope of the mind stops at the boundaries of the skin and skull, The Oneness Hypothesis shows that a more relational conception of the self is not only consistent with contemporary science but has the potential to lead to greater happiness and well-being for both individuals and the larger wholes of which they are parts. (shrink)
Dennett argues that we can be mistaken about our own conscious experience. Despite this, he repeatedly asserts that we can or do have unchallengeable authority of some sort in our reports about that experience. This assertion takes three forms. First, Dennett compares our authority to the authority of an author over his fictional world. Unfortunately, that appears to involve denying that there are actual facts about experience that subjects may be truly or falsely reporting. Second, Dennett sometimes seems to say (...) that even though we may be mistaken about what our conscious experience is, our reports about “what it’s like to be us” must be correct. That view unfortunately requires a nonstandard and unremarked distinction between facts about consciousness and facts about “what it’s like.” Third, Dennett says that reports about experience may be “incorrigible.” However, that claim stands in tension with evidence, highlighted by Dennett himself, that seems to suggest that people can be demonstrably mistaken about their own experience. Dennett needlessly muddies his case against infallibilism with these unsatisfactory compromises. (shrink)
What do people consciously experience when they read? There has been almost no rigorous research on this question, and opinions diverge radically among both philosophers and psychologists. We describe three studies of the phenomenology of reading and its relationship to memory of textual detail and general cognitive abilities. We find three main results. First, there is substantial variability in reports about reading experience, both within and between participants. Second, reported reading experience varies with passage type: passages with dialogue prompted increased (...) reports of inner speech, while passages with vivid visual detail prompted increased reports of visual imagery. Third, reports of visual imagery experiences, inner speech experiences, and experiences of conscious visual perception of the words on the page were at best weakly related to general cognitive abilities and memory of visual and auditory details. (shrink)
To study conscious experience we must, to some extent, trust introspective reports; yet introspective reports often do not merit our trust. A century ago, E.B. Titchener advocated extensive introspective training as a means of resolving this difficulty. He describes many of his training techniques in his four-volume laboratory manual of 1901- 1905. This paper explores Titchener's laboratory manual with an eye to general questions about the prospects of introspective training for contemporary consciousness studies, with a focus on the following examples: (...) introspective knowledge of the combination tones that arise when a musical interval is played; the 'flight of colours' in the afterimage of a field of bright, broad- spectrum light; and the possibility of non-obvious visual illusions. Introspective training appears to have some merit, but also to involve significant hazards. (shrink)
Does a penny viewed at an angle in some sense look elliptical, as though projected on a two-dimensional surface? Many philosophers have said such things, from Malebranche (1674/1997) and Hume (1739/1978), through early 20th-century sense-data theorists, to Tye (2000) and Noë (2004). I confess that it doesn't seem this way to me, though I'm somewhat baffled by the phenomenology and pessimistic about our ability to resolve the dispute. I raise geometrical complaints against the view and conjecture that views of this (...) sort draw some of their appeal from over-analogizing visual experience to painting or photography. Theorists writing in contexts where vision is typically analogized to less-projective media--wax signet impressions in ancient Greece, stereoscopy in introspective psychology circa 1900--are substantially less likely to attribute such projective distortions to visual appearances. (shrink)
Philosophers tend to assume that we have excellent knowledge of our own current conscious experience or 'phenomenology'. I argue that our knowledge of one aspect of our experience, the experience of visual imagery, is actually rather poor. Precedent for this position is found among the introspective psychologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Two main arguments are advanced toward the conclusion that our knowledge of our own imagery is poor. First, the reader is asked to form a visual (...) image, and it is expected that answering questions about certain basic features of that experience will be difficult. If so, it seems reasonable to suppose that people could be mistaken about those basic features of their own imagery. Second, it is observed that although people give widely variable reports about their own experiences of visual imagery, differences in report do not systematically correlate with differences on tests of skills that psychologists have often supposed to require visual imagery, such as mental rotation, visual creativity, and visual memory. (shrink)
Do professional ethicists behave any morally better than other professors do? Do they show any greater consistency between their normative attitudes and their behavior? In response to a survey question, a large majority of professors (83 percent of ethicists, 83 percent of nonethicist philosophers, and 85 percent of nonphilosophers) expressed the view that “not consistently responding to student e-mails” is morally bad. A similarly large majority of professors claimed to respond to at least 95 percent of student e-mails. These professors, (...) and others, were sent three e-mails designed to look like queries from students. Ethicists’ e-mail response rates were not significantly different from the other two groups’. Expressed normative view correlated with self-estimated rate of e-mail responsiveness, especially among the ethicists. Empirically measured e-mail responsiveness, however, was at best weakly correlated with self-estimated e-mail responsiveness; and professors’ expressed normative attitude was not significantly correlated with empirically measured e-mail responsiveness for any of the three groups. (shrink)
Rationalization, in our intended sense of the term, occurs when a person favors a particular conclusion as a result of some factor (such as self-interest) that is of little justificatory epistemic relevance, if that factor then biases the person’s subsequent search for, and assessment of, potential justifications for the conclusion. Empirical evidence suggests that rationalization is common in people’s moral and philosophical thought. We argue that it is likely that the moral and philosophical thought of philosophers and moral psychologists is (...) also pervaded by rationalization. Moreover, although rationalization has some benefits, overall it would be epistemically better if the moral and philosophical reasoning of people, including professional academics, were not as heavily influenced by rationalization as it likely is. We discuss the significance of our arguments for cognitive management and epistemic responsibility. (shrink)
A 1% skeptic is someone who has about a 99% credence in non-skeptical realism and about a 1% credence that some radically skeptical scenario obtains. The first half of this essay defends the epistemic rationality of 1% skepticism, endorsing modest versions of dream skepticism, simulation skepticism, cosmological skepticism, and wildcard skepticism. The second half of the essay explores the practical behavioral consequences of 1% skepticism.
How do you know your own beliefs? And how well do you know them? The two questions are related. I’ll recommend a pluralist answer to the first question. The answer to the second question, I’ll suggest, varies depending on features of the case.
Dennett argues that we can be mistaken about our own conscious experience. Despite this, he repeatedly asserts that we can or do have unchallengeable authority of some sort in our reports about that experience. This assertion takes three forms. First, Dennett compares our authority to the authority of an author over his fictional world. Unfortunately, that appears to involve denying that there are actual facts about experience that subjects may be truly or falsely reporting. Second, Dennett sometimes seems to say (...) that even though we may be mistaken about what our conscious experience is, our reports about. (shrink)
Lists of paid registrants at Pacific Division meetings of the American Philosophical Association from 2006–2008 were compared with lists of people appearing as presenters, commentators or chairs on the meeting programme those same years. These were years in which fee payment depended primarily on an honour system rather than on enforcement. Seventy-four per cent of ethicist participants and 76% of non-ethicist participants appear to have paid their meeting registration fees: not a statistically significant difference. This finding of no difference survives (...) scrutiny for several possible confounds. Thus, professional ethicists seem no less likely to free-ride in this context than do philosophers not specializing in ethics. These data fit with other recent findings suggesting that on average professional ethicists behave no morally better than do professors not specializing in ethics. (shrink)