This book is a defense of the methods of analytic philosophy against a recent empirical challenge to the soundness of those methods. The challenge is raised by practitioners of “experimental philosophy” and concerns the extent to which analytic philosophy relies on intuition—in particular, the extent to which analytic philosophers treat intuitions as evidence in arguing for philosophical conclusions. Experimental philosophers say that analytic philosophers place a great deal of evidential weight on people’s intuitions about hypothetical cases and thought experiments. This (...) book argues that this view of traditional philosophical method is a myth, part of “metaphilosophical folklore.” Analytic philosophy makes regular use of hypothetical examples and thought experiments, but philosophers argue for their claims about what is true or not true in these examples and thought experiments. It is these arguments, not intuitions, that are treated as evidence for the claims. The book discusses xphi and some recent xphi studies; critiques a variety of other metaphilosophical claims; examines such famous arguments as Gettier’s refutation of the JTB theory and Kripke’s Gödel Case argument against descriptivism about proper names, and shows that they rely on reasoning rather than intuition; and finds existing critiques of xphi, the “Multiple Concepts” and “Expertise” replies, to be severely lacking. (shrink)
Advocates of conceptual engineering as a method of philosophy face a dilemma: either they are ignorant of how conceptual engineering can be implemented, or else it is trivial to implement but of very little value, representing no new or especially fruitful method of philosophizing. Two key distinctions frame this dilemma and explain its two horns. First, the distinction between speaker’s meaning and reference and semantic meaning and reference reveals a severe implementation problem for one construal of conceptual engineering. Second, the (...) distinction between stipulating meanings and conceptually analyzing allows us to see why, on another construal of what conceptual engineering involves, the practice is neither a new nor neglected philosophical methodology. The article also argues that semantic externalism is not the root of the implementation problem for conceptual engineering, and that the usual rationale for adopting the practice, one that ties its value to the amelioration of “conceptual defects”, is unsound. (shrink)
It is argued on a variety of grounds that recent results in 'experimental philosophy of language', which appear to show that there are significant cross-cultural differences in intuitions about the reference of proper names, do not pose a threat to a more traditional mode of philosophizing about reference. Some of these same grounds justify a complaint about experimental philosophy as a whole.
Practitioners of the new ‘experimental philosophy’ have collected data that appear to show that some philosophical intuitions are culturally variable. Many experimental philosophers take this to pose a problem for a more traditional, ‘armchair’ style of philosophizing. It is argued that this is a mistake that derives from a false assumption about the character of philosophical methods; neither philosophy nor its methods have anything to fear from cultural variability in philosophical intuitions.
Steffen Koch raises several objections to my critique of conceptual engineering. Here, I reply to these objections, arguing that Koch fails to adequately defend the “standard rationale” for conceptual engineering, and that the dilemma I have posed for “conceptual re-engineering”, a dilemma that presents this practice as either infeasible or else trivial, survives Koch’s objections unscathed. I conclude that conceptual engineering, both in terms of its conception and rationale, remains problematic.
“Conceptual analysis” is a misnomer—it refers, but it does not refer to a method or practice that involves the analysis of concepts. Once this is recognized, many of the main arguments for skepticism about conceptual analysis can be answered, since many of these arguments falsely assume that conceptual analyses target concepts. The present paper defends conceptual analysis from skepticism about its viability and, positively, presents an argument for viewing conceptual analyses as targeting philosophical phenomena, not our concepts of these phenomena.
I argue in this paper that the existence of sorites series of color patches – series of color patches arranged so that the patches on each end look different in color though no two adjacent patches do – shows that the relation of same phenomenal character as is not a transitive relation. I then argue that the intransitivity of same phenomenal character as conflicts with certain versions of intentionalism, the view that an experiences phenomenal character is exhausted, or fully determined (...) by its intentional content. Lastly, I consider various objections to the arguments and reply to them. (shrink)
Avner Baz claims that questions philosophers ask about hypothetical cases lack the kind of ‘point’ possessed by ‘everyday’ questions. He concludes from this that there is something wrong with the philosophical practice of asking questions about hypothetical cases. This paper defends the practice from Baz’s criticism.
Representationalist theories of the phenomenal character of conscious experience are attractive because they promise a simpler 'naturalization' of the mind. However, I argue that representationalists cannot endorse an otherwise attractive externalist theory of the representational contents of conscious experiences. The combination of representationalism and externalism conflicts with a true principle linking phenomenal character to perceptual indistinguishability.
This chapter highlights the common practice of appealing to lay intuitions as evidence for philosophical theories of free will. These arguments often seem to assume that the purported intuitions in question are not results of error, and the purported intuitions are generalizable to some interesting extent. Some empirical investigations of these two assumptions, including some studies that revealed intra‐personal variation in compatibilist intuitions are reviewed. The chapter examines two popular error theories, the affect Hypothesis and the Bypassing Hypothesis, which take (...) these findings to challenges. With new empirical results, it argues instead that both compatibilist and incompatibilist intuitions genuinely reflect how people think about free will and moral responsibility. A pluralistic approach of theorizing about free will that allows one to embrace either compatibilism or incompatibilism in different contexts is proposed. (shrink)
This article argues that the “_qua_ problem” for purely causal theories of reference grounding is an illusion. Reference _can_ be grounded via description and fit, but purely causal reference grounding is possible too. In fact, “arguments from ignorance and error” suggest that many of our terms have had their reference grounded purely causally. If the _qua_ problem is illusory, then there is no need to adopt a “hybrid” theory of reference grounding of the kind recently recommended by Amie Thomasson (Ontology (...) made easy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015) and Ron Mallon (The construction of human kinds, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016). This opens the door to a “discovery model” of philosophical knowledge, a model we could then choose to accept. (shrink)
Radical Millianism agrees with less radical varieties in claiming that ordinary proper names lack “descriptive senses” and that the semantic content of such a name is just its referent but differs from less radical varieties of Millianism in claiming that any pair of sentences differing only in the exchange of coreferential names cannot differ in truth‐value. This is what makes Radical Millianism radical. The view is surprisingly popular these days, and it is popular despite the fact that, until very recently, (...) there was not a single argument for it. Theodore Sider and David Braun (2006) have tried to provide the missing argument, but, I argue, their attempt fails. I conclude that we (still) have no reason to be Radical Millians. (shrink)
Materialism about the mind is the view that the mind and its properties are physical. Many believe that there is a serious problem for materialism about the mind stemming from the phenomenon of conscious experience. It is alleged by some that conscious experiences possess features that cannot be possessed by any physical thing. And, even many materialists agree that conscious experiences possess features that make it difficult to see how conscious experiences could be physical things. Consciousness and the Insignificance of (...) Materialism examines this supposed clash between consciousness and physicality. The conclusion reached is that the clash is an illusion. It is an illusion fostered by certain false assumptions, made by materialists and anti-materialists alike, about the nature of physicality. However, it is argued that this is a hollow victory for materialism about the mind. Once the nature of physicality is appropriately characterized, materialism about the mind is revealed as true, but uninterestingly true. In other words, materialism about the mind is an insignificant view concerning the nature of the mind and mentality. (shrink)