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jonathan weinberg

Just gave it a very quick read, and one edit you might make is cutting out the presentation of the SES results from the original Weinberg, Nichols, and Stich paper -- I don't think that they hold up to methodological scrutiny, and I don't talk them up at all. That should save you a few hundred words, anyway!

One other quick thought: I think it would be best to present the relevant statistical measures as well, when reporting the various experimental results.

Edouard Machery

Indeed, the SES results did not replicate when I looked at them.

Josh May

This looks like a really great chapter, James! It should be very useful, as you cover a great deal of terrain.

If you're looking to cut some material, I could see limiting coverage of the general methodological issues toward the end. Some of your discussion is really great, in my opinion, though. I especially like your response to Sosa's challenge (pp. 15-6).

I found one typo, for what it's worth. On p. 16, just before the long Devitt quote, you have "are" twice---once in the short quote, once right before it.


Thanks for the input, guys.

harvey brockman

Hi James,
Perhaps it would be helpful to those philosophers still skeptical of "experimental philosophy" if you could give some examples of those areas of philosophy where, in your opinion, an experimental methodology is NOT relevant (as you suggest is the case, in the second paragraph of your article). What is it about epistemology (or any other amenable area), in contrast, that makes it receptive to the survey results of experimental philosophers?
It might allay some fears if you were to offer a quick sketch of what the "Philosopher", in general, is up to (and so show in what ways an "experimental methodology" fits into, or supplements, that). I make this suggestion because I think your comments to the effect that the first part of experimental philosophy ISN'T philosophy (but, rather, science), and the second part ISN'T "philosophy as usual" DO lend an air of controversy that you, in fact, want to damp down.

harvey brockman

Hi James,
(another comment after a second and third glance!)--
I have to say that when I get to the end of your article, I don't have the sense that experimental philosophy "sheds light on debates within epistemology" so much as it makes claims about who does and who doesn't "intuit" X, or Y, or Z… But, I want to say, "How do 'ordinary people' respond to questions about knowledge, evidence, etc.?" isn't any more a philosophy question than is "How do 'ordinary people' respond to questions about deflation and recession?"-- is it? Or, if we consider some other 'discipline': We won't want to say -- will we? -- that "How do 'ordinary people' respond to questions about ionization and orbital energies?" is a chemistry question.
You say of experimental philosophy that it is a "two-part activity", the first part of which is "science", and not philosophy at all; the second part, then, is going to be the "philosophy", but even after a couple of readings of your survey I cannot see this supposedly something other (not-science) part. My impression is that your "not philosophy as usual" means that the experimental philosopher's real interest lies in transforming "philosophy questions" into "science questions". Perhaps you could offer an example or two of "philosophical theorizing" that isn't replaceable by "experimentation" -- and what are the accomplishments of this theorizing, versus those of experimentation?
The (primary) interest in "doing science", I think, is illustrated in the treatment of Gettier's "justified true belief" paper in section I. In that paper there isn't any talk of "intuitions", nor do I see why we should read Gettier as relying on a (tacit or otherwise) prediction that his audience will unanimously "intuit" as he (allegedly) does. It seems to me that what he suggests is this: (i) there is a logic of "justified" and "true belief" that allows us to say "Smith holds a ('mistaken') justified, true belief"; but, (ii) there is a logic of "knowledge" that disallows the counting of a mistaken, justified, true belief as knowledge". -- So if we're tempted to say "knowledge is justified true belief", we should be prepared to show how to draw up the rules for "justified", "knowledge", etc. such that they do not conflict with one another; or we should allow ourselves to be tempted by some other notion of "knowledge"; or, perhaps, we might want to reconsider what we mean to be doing in a "search" for necessary and sufficient conditions in the first place…
So I don't think that the experimental philosopher is uniquely or especially positioned to offer -- having done the work of gathering responses to survey questions -- the "cautionary message" that "one should not be hasty to assume that one's own initial reactions are always definitive". Of course if that were one's assumption, then one would hardly need to engage with "Philosophy". That is a too simple and too narrow reading of what philosophers (interesting philosophers, anyway) are up to. Ned Block, for example, does appeal (in "Troubles with Functionalism") to "our intuitions", but he also reminds the reader: "intuitions unsupported by principled argument are hardly to be considered bedrock". That paper was published in 1980.

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3QD Prize 2012: Wesley Buckwalter