Check out my presumptuously titled new piece in Thought! In it, I argue for several modifications to experimental philosophy's self-conception which would circumvent several prominent objections to the 'negative' project.
...at least for the 9 questions I studied for my 2013 paper, and for the 3 of those that Buckwaler and Stitch included in their widely-discussed paper on the subject. Plus: why has philosophy made so much less progress toward gender equality than the STEM disciplines have over the past two decades? I address these issues in my new article in Hypatia.
Many contemporary experimental philosophers endorse a broad conception of experimental philosophy according to which one is doing experimental philosophy whenever one uses empirical methods and techniques to help investigate philosophical questions. Other experimental philosophers -- and many critics of experimental philosophy -- have assumed a narrower conception and restricted the practice to the empirical study of philosophical intuitions. Often the narrower project is further confined to folk intuitions and the aim of such studies is also narrowly focused on the evidential value of intuitions. We aim to provoke further discussion of the scope of experimental philosophy and to encourage experimental philosophers to consider how we might advance philosophical inquiry without studying intuitions.
Therefore, the Midwest Experimental and Theoretical Association invites submissions on the theme, “Beyond Intuition: Experimental Philosophy on the Broad Conception.” Submissions reporting new empirical results as well as submissions reflecting on the scope of experimental philosophy, its motivations, or the criticisms raised against it are welcome. The conference will be held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 7-8, 2016. Invited speakers are Carrie Figdor, Ron Mallon, Colleen Murphy, and Justin Sytsma.
To submit, please send either a paper or an extended abstract (up to 1,000 words in length) prepared for blind review AND a separate identifying title page to Ferrin McGinness at email@example.com by July 15, 2016.
Helen de Cruz, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in philosophy at Oxford Brooks University in England. De Cruz holds a PhD in both philosophy (2011, University of Groningen) and archaeology and art sciences (2007, Free University Brussels), and her main areas of specialization are philosophy of cognitive science and philosophy of religion. De Cruz is co-editor (with Ryan Nichols) of Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy (2016, Bloomsbury). She has also written on issues within epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy of science, and metaphilosophy.
We invite submissions for paper presentations on any topic pertaining to experimental philosophy. Submissions can report new experimental results or contribute to broader philosophical or methodological debates over existing or possible results. Both XPhi-friendly and XPhi-critical papers are welcomed. We prefer to receive complete papers, but we will also accept extended abstracts. Participants who give paper presentations will be given 50 minute sessions within which to present their research and to respond to questions. Speakers are encouraged to allow at least 15 min. for Q&A. Speakers are also strongly encouraged to talk through their papers rather than read them verbatim.
We invite submissions for poster presentations on any topic pertaining to experimental philosophy. For poster submissions, please submit an extended abstract. A poster session and hors d’oeuvres reception will take place on the evening of Fri., Sept. 9.
New Ideas Workshop
This year’s conference will feature a half-day workshop for researchers who are new to experimental philosophy and are interested in learning more about how to further develop an idea they may have for a research project. Presenters will pitch their ideas to other workshop participants and conference attendees and will receive feedback and advice on experimental design, the construction of research materials, and statistical analysis. Anyone interested in participating in the workshop should submit a detailed description of their project idea.
The conference registration fee will be $60 for faculty and $30 for graduate students, post-docs, and independent scholars.
Organizers: Robert Kelly and James Beebe (Experimental Epistemology Research Group, University at Buffalo). The event is sponsored by the Marvin Farber Memorial Fund, the George Hourani Memorial Fund, the Peter Hare Memorial Fund, and the William Baumer Memorial Fund at the Dept. of Philosophy at the University at Buffalo (SUNY).
Some of you may be interested in "Belief States in Criminal Law," a forthcoming article I recently posted on SSRN. It's an updated version of the paper I presented at last year's X-Phi conference at University of Buffalo. Many thanks to those I met there and elsewhere for your insightful comments on this paper and related projects. More comments are always welcome! Here is the abstract:
Belief-state ascription—determining what someone “knew,” “believed,” was “aware of,” etc.—is central to many areas of law. In criminal law, the distinction between knowledge and recklessness, and the use of broad jury instructions concerning other belief states, presupposes a common and stable understanding of what those belief-state terms mean. But a wealth of empirical work at the intersection of philosophy and psychology—falling under the banner of “Experimental Epistemology”—reveals how laypeople’s understandings of mens rea concepts differ systematically from what scholars, courts, and perhaps legislators, have assumed.
As implemented, mens rea concepts are much more context-dependent and normatively evaluative than the conventional wisdom suggests, even assuming that jurors are following jury instructions to the letter. As a result, there is less difference between knowledge and recklessness than is typically assumed; jurors consistently “over”-ascribe knowledge to criminal defendants; and concepts like “belief,” “awareness,” and “conscious disregard” mean different things in different contexts, resulting in mens rea findings systematically responsive to aspects of the case traditionally considered irrelevant to the meaning of those terms.
This Article provides the first systematic account of the factors driving jurors’ ascriptions of the specific belief states criminal law invokes. After surveying mens rea jury instructions, introducing the Experimental Epistemology literature to the legal literature on mens rea, and examining the implications of that literature for criminal law, this Article considers ways to begin bridging the surprisingly large gap between mens rea theory and practice.
Some experimental philosophers might be interested in "Chomsky and Moral Philosophy," a new paper I recently posted on SSRN. It will appear in the second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky (J. McGilvray, ed), which is due out later this year. Here is the abstract:
Every great philosopher has important things to say about moral philosophy. Chomsky is no exception. Chomsky’s remarks on this topic, however, are not systematic. Instead, they consist mainly of brief and occasional asides. Although often provocative, they tend to come across as digressions from his central focus on linguistics and related disciplines, such as epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. Perhaps as a result, moral philosophers have paid relatively little attention to Chomsky over the past sixty years.
This neglect is unfortunate. Chomsky’s insights into the nature and origin of human morality are fundamental and penetrating. They address deep philosophical problems that have shaped the aims of moral philosophy for centuries. They also reinforce many of the lessons Chomsky has taught about the nature and origins of human language. Elaborating upon these themes, this chapter begins by recounting two of Chomsky’s most extensive discussions of moral philosophy, each of which draws attention to the fact that, like linguistic knowledge, moral knowledge is an example of Plato’s problem: a complex mental competence characterized by a profound poverty of the stimulus. The chapter then places these remarks in a broader context by providing a brief discussion of mentalist, modular, and nativist theories of moral cognition from Plato to the present. Finally, the chapter responds to one prominent criticism of Chomsky’s naturalistic approach to moral philosophy, that of the late philosopher, Bernard Williams. I argue that Williams’ “Wittgensteinian” skepticism about moral rules is no more convincing than a similar skepticism about grammatical rules in the context of linguistic theory.