Blog Coordinator

Knobe's X-Phi Page

X-Phi Grad Programs

« Another group session of interest at the Eastern APA.... | Main | More Press on Experimental Philosophy: Süddeutsche Zeitung »

07/23/2009

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Eddy Nahmias

Good review Josh! My only comment would be, if you are allowed to make it any longer, do so, adding a bit more info about what more of the articles say (arguments and/or results).

I like the distinction between "moderate exp phil" and "radical exp phil". I'd like to hear who fits into each camp (identified by you or by the people themselves). I'm pretty sure I fit in the moderate camp.

jonathan weinberg

I'd like to work out a big post on some of these issues, but for now let me note that this is not consonant with my own experience:

"And, from what I‟ve gathered, many philosophers who don‟t follow experimental philosophy much think it‟s a “movement” that consists primarily of what we have called “radical experimentalists” who are simply trying to undermine traditional philosophical methods."

In my experience, the modal take on x-phi is a synthesis of maximal versions of experimental restrictionism and experimental analysis: they think we're all trying both to do away with anything resembling armchair philosophy, _and_ that we're trying to replace it with survey's of the folk. (To my knowledge, though, no one actually holds to anything even remotely resembling that combo.)

Also, if you look at text from folks like Ludwig, Kaupinnen, Hales, and, for that matter, parts of Williamson, it's pretty clear that lots of fundamental opposition to the idea that there's any real positive philosophical value to be gained from examining the judgments of the great unwashed.

jonathan weinberg

Come to think of it, my previous comment fits well with Eddy's recommendation to say more about the results themselves. It's one thing for a philosopher to assent to the proposition that more knowledge about the human mind is a good thing -- philosophers don't generally take a line against knowledge in the abstract, after all -- but it's rather another thing when the specific results come in, and make trouble for one of that philosopher's preferred theses! I don't think that in practice, "moderate" x-phi is nearly as milquetoast as you (and Jonathan I.) make it out to be. And note that the whole idea of x-phi as _supplementing_ armchair methods is pretty committed in practice to, at least substantially, _supplanting_ it: what "moderate" x-phi has been offering by and large has the value it does when there is a shortcoming of some sort in the armchair methods. The armchair still gets de-throned, on such a view.

Better, I think, to get down to the particular findings, and see what they have to say about philosophy (and vice-versa).

Josh May

Thanks for the comments, Eddy.

On expansion: I am already a bit over the word limit. I was thinking about including more about what the articles say, but I'm not sure that will be feasible. It could be difficult to do justice to only a hand full of articles in such a short amount of space, let alone the majority of them! I'd have to leave out some and focus on others, which might just put me in the same position I'm in now. But I'll see what I can do.

On the two camps: I deliberately avoided naming names very much here. I do point to chapters 2 and 3 as likely examples of "radical" x-phi. But I didn't think the book review would be a good place to try to flesh out who falls into which camp. Besides, the distinction is rough and can be difficult to apply to people. Suppose e.g. I write more confidently and say without qualification that Weinberg, Nichols, and Stich fall into the radical camp by pointing to their paper in the volume. Yet maybe some of them think that only in the particular case of epistemology are armchair methods flawed. The distinction between camps characterizes two broad views about the value of certain methodologies in general. Pointing to a paper or two might not be sufficient for putting a philosopher in one camp or another. But, as you suggest, it would be interesting to see people on here or in other forums discuss their position with respect to these kinds of distinctions.

Josh May

Thanks for the comments, Jonathan.

On your first comment:
If I'm reading you correctly, I think I meant the bit you quoted to reflect pretty much what you say afterward.

You're right that there are people who think even "moderate" x-phi is dubious. But I'm more concerned, as I think Knobe and Nichols largely are in their opening chapter, with the philosophical community at large who don't follow x-phi very closely, not the people (like Kaupinnen and Williamson) who do.

Here's where I'm coming from. In my experience, as I note in the bit you quoted, most of the philosophical community think x-phi is more controversial than it is. And, also in my experience, as soon people start learning what it's about (and learn, for example, about all the "moderate" projects within it), they no longer take such a negative stance toward it. In a book like this, I was hoping primarily that it would have this sort of effect on the philosophical community at large (i.e. show them that, while some are trying to undermine armchair methods, many aren't and that's not essential to x-phi, so there's no need to be so hostile toward it).

On your second comment:
However, you suggest that this is an unstable position, that one can't be moderate without revealing problems with armchair methodology. As you say, you think it has no value otherwise. I strongly disagree. I think much x-phi has great value without undermining armchair methods. And one can embark on an experimental project even if one thinks the armchair method can help there too. In my experimental work on Stanley and Schaffer on the bank cases, I didn't plan to go out and test e.g. Stanley's empirical claims about the bank cases because I thought thinking hard about them from the armchair as a user of the language oneself is a worthless or flawed method in the area of epistemology or more broadly. It can help; but when one is staking so much on an empirical claim, it can be useful to do some empirical testing. The results are bad for Stanley, but I don't think they show Stanley's methodology, broadly construed as the armchair methodology, is flawed. It just shows that he somehow got sidetracked on the way---or something like that.

Well, in any event, I look forward to your post on these issues!

jonathan weinberg

Hi Josh,

I think that the way you're talking about things makes the "negative program" out to be more radical than it is, and moreover makes the "positive program" to be less radical than it is, and, directly connected to that, misses out on a major dimension of the profession's misunderstanding of x-phi.

For starters, looking back at Matthew's paper, the way he glosses the radical/moderate distinction is really problematic. Here's what he says: " among those who are sympathetic to experimentalism, one can distinguish the ‘‘moderate experimentalists,’’ who believe that experimentalism can complement [armchair appeals to intuition], from the ‘‘radical experimentalists,’’ who seem to hold the view that experimentalism should replace [armchair appeals to intuition]." As written, I don't think that _anyone_ is a radical experimentalist. Certainly I'm not, and I don't think that any of my various co-authors are -- I just don't think that any of us have suggested x-phi as a _replacement_ method for armchair appeals to intuition. Indeed, some of us have written directly against that idea:
http://www.philosophy.utah.edu/faculty/mallon/Materials/AccentuatetheNegative.pdf

So, what Matthew is calling "radical experimentalism" does strike me as a good encapsulation of what I was just calling the modal view of x-phi among the profession, but like I said, I don't think it actually applies to anyone.

But putting aside Matthew's gloss and looking at your own, it's important to see that the idea that current x-phi work supplements armchair inquiry presupposes that armchair inquiry has some key shortcomings -- if the armchair could get us everything we wanted philosophically, then there'd be no extra work for x-phi to be doing to "supplement" it. I do think that this is consistent with, as you say, "embark[ing] on an experimental project even if one thinks the armchair method can help there too" -- there is, I agree, a distinction to be made between the positive and the negative programs. But it's important to see that there's still a pair of metaphilosophically rather radical elements in the positive program: that, first, the armchair is really not at all up to the task of settling debates like those between Jason and Jonathan even on what some of the basic key data are to which a theory of knowledge should try to be responsible; and that, second, x-phi is the thing that will provide philosophy with a better picture of the data.

Regarding that first component, the negative and positive programs both agree very substantially that we need to reject the status of the armchair as autonomous & empirically impregnable. That's pretty radical in its own terms. Now, the negative program obviously goes rather further in that regard, in its rather broader rejection of much of a positive methodological status for intuitions, but not in a way that is at all unanticipated in thie history of the profession; arguably, it's at least as old as empiricism, and certainly was a hot topic in recent decades even before x-phi had begun. So I'm not sure that "radical" is all that appropriate a term for distinguishing the metaphilosophy of the likes of Machery et al. from that of Nahmias or Knobe.

And in terms of the second, positive component, the negative program is far and away the _less_ radical of the programs, because it just does not try to offer any particular story of what we should do in lieu of armchair intuitionizing. (That's why it's the _negative_ program.) And it is this positive, "let's ask the folk" element in the positive program that, as I stated earlier, plays a big part in much philosophical resistance to x-phi (as it is typically (mis-)construed)). Consider this line from Williamson's _PoP_, p. 7: "...on the account of this book, the method of conducting opinion polls among non-philosophers is not very much more likely to be the best way of answering philosophical questions than the method of conducting opinion polls among non-physicists is to be the best way of answering physical questions." I take this to be a pretty typical attitude, and indeed I've heard something more or less like it many, many times. It represents a pretty basic misunderstanding of just how the positive program conceives of its positive element, but it is a misunderstanding that is unrelated to the "undermine the armchair" side of things.

Josh May

Hi, Jonathan. Thanks for the response. It's quite helpful! I'm beginning to better understand and appreciate your worries about how I'm construing things. I don't want to paint the "radicals" as extremely radical and the "moderates" as not making any somewhat revisionary claims whatsoever.

I have to think about this more, but I'm still inclined to think that there is a program or view that is less radical (perhaps "revisionary" is better) than you think is possible. Your distinction between the positive and negative programs seems to focus on whether the program offers a specific replacement method or not. But the distinction I'm trying to focus in on is between views that are relatively revisionary and ones that aren't (or much less so). The revisionists think that x-phi, at least in large part, undermines traditional methods---shows that they are, as you say, "not at all up to the task" and that x-phi is. It seems you're saying all x-phiers are either pursuing the positive program or the negative one and that, as far as my distinction goes, all x-phiers have to be quite revisionary---i.e. one can't be an experimentalist without thinking something is quite wrong with the armchair.

But this is where I'm still worried. I think there is conceptual room and justification for an even more moderate view. It's a view that I've tried to pursue and that I think many x-phiers hold (or at least that it's open to them, and so critics of x-phi should keep it in mind in their criticisms of the entire enterprise). Maybe I can try to articulate it more in the comments of your post on these issues if you do post something on it. But, in short, I think one can, as you quote me saying, "embark on an experimental project even if one thinks the armchair method can help there too." But you say this is compatible with and must ultimately be conjoined with the "pair of metaphilosophically rather radical elements" that you mention in that fourth paragraph. But I'm not sure that the the view I'm pushing and your two elements are compatible or that all experimentalists must endorse them.

The worry, of course, is that this can't be maintained. As you say, "if the armchair could get us everything we wanted philosophically, then there'd be no extra work for x-phi to be doing to 'supplement' it." But I'm not exactly suggesting that the armchair can "get us everything we want." I'm just saying it's not seriously flawed or (always, necessarily) "not up to the task." Why must the usefulness of one method preclude the usefulness of the other? Perhaps sometimes we'll get evidence that we should rely on one more than the other; or perhaps the use of one will reveal problems with our application of the other in that instance, etc. But that's additional evidence. I only want to claim that admitting the usefulness of the methodology doesn't *alone* commit one to saying that the other is not useful. The view I'm sketching is only committed to saying, to put it simply, that *x-phi is useful*. (This is the minimal claim I think is important to emphasize to the broader philosophical community and so in the X-phi book.) We need further assumptions to get us to the claim that the armchair is a worse method than x-phi, seriously flawed, not up to task, etc. That's why I think this view isn't very revisionary.

So, I think this moderate view can still, as you say, "reject the status of the armchair as autonomous & empirically impregnable." I certainly don't think all of philosophy is empirically impregnable. (That just follows from the claim that x-phi is sometimes useful, which I think isn't controversial, or at least it shouldn't be. While it's somewhat revisionary, I don't think it's the kind of thing the profession at large is worried about.) However, perhaps I do think the armchair methodology is autonomous *in some sense*, namely in that sometimes it's reasonable for a philosopher to not conduct or pay a great deal of attention to experiments in her philosophical theorizing. (This is what I'm committed to saying by not holding the revisionary view that the armchair is seriously flawed.) But I certainly don't think it's autonomous in the sense that it's *always* reasonable for a philosopher to not conduct experiments or to ignore them.

(Well, sorry for another long comment post! I meant it to be shorter. But there it is.)

tnadelhoffer

Josh,

Could you say a bit more about what precisely you think you can use the purportedly un-flawed armchair methodology to successfully accomplish? I think whether one thinks armchair theorizing is flawed will depend a great deal on what one thinks one's is doing when theorizing in this way. For instance, do you think appealing to your own intuitions about particular cases can provide you with accurate and reliable information concerning the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions of concepts such as free will, intentional action, etc.? If so, what need would you have for x-phi? If, on the other hand, you don't think armchair theorizing can provide you with this kind of information, then why not say it is flawed? Of course, you might not think philosophers ought to be in the business of conceptual analysis at all. Either way, I think it would be helpful if I had a better idea of what it is you think armchair philosophy accomplishes and how you think x-phi might help it along the way.

Josh May

Hi, Thomas. Yes, I should clarify here. As you say, much turns on these things. Here's what I'm thinking... roughly:

First, I'm not at all sure philosophers should be in the business of conceptual analysis in terms of finding the necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of a concept or word or what have you. However, I do think there is a lot to be gained in certain areas of philosophy in doing something like that. (Those are a lot of qualifications!) All in all, I think philosophy is just thinking really hard about stuff. That's most of academia, but philosophy gets carved out *roughly* by its typical subject matter, typical methods, etc. Anyway, what survives, I think, of the conceptual analysis kind of method is something like thinking really hard about cases that are important for our theorizing. That at least is often valuable for certain philosophical inquiries.

So, given that we can talk a bit about something like intuitions about cases as a legitimate approach to some philosophical theorizing, my idea is something like the following.

Take the bank cases, for example. They're important for epistemology, especially in its current stages. A lot turns on whether Hannah knows in low stakes but not in high stakes. If so, we've got to account for that; if not, we have to account for the fact that she knows in both. My thought is, sure, as theorists, our use of the relevant words or the relevant concepts (however we want to talk here) can get skewed. But we're not aliens speaking another language or using radically different mental systems. We're people too. We're speakers of English too. So long as we're thinking sufficiently clearly, not overly biased by our theory, not overly subject to various skewings, focused on what we would actual say about the case, not overly concerned with other theoretical problems like skepticism, so on and so forth, THEN we might be able to give the right answer about whether Hannah knows in high stakes just by getting clear on the case and imagining how we and others would apply our ordinary words and concepts to them.

Take me, for example. I've never felt the shiftiness we're supposed to get with the bank cases (insofar as I'm concerned about ordinary usage). Once I got clear on the cases and so on, I thought that what we would say is that Hannah knows in both cases. Given recent studies (*cough*cough*), it looks like I was right! Is that some lucky guess of mine? I don't think so. I think it had something to do with me being an ordinary speaker, not sufficiently biased by any particular theory (not to say I wasn't biased at all!), and perhaps a host of other things of which I'm not aware. But if we can get it right sometimes from the armchair *non-accidentally*, it seems the method can be of use.

One might object here by saying: "Well, but the experiments were doing all the work; we weren't sure prior to them and now we are (not to say the experiments I and others have done have settled the issue exactly); we might as well have skipped the armchair and ran the experiment!" But I think sometimes we can get pretty sure about some of these things from the armchair (so that it does enough work on its own). After all, our experiments are often guided by this kind of armchair method. We say e.g. "I'm going to frame the question to my subjects in this way because the other way would be misleading (or is a metaphorical use of the term, or is ambiguous, or has this sort of connotation that won't get the right meaning or idea across, so on and so forth)." How do we know that? Well, because we speak the language too, and we're pretty sure it has such-and-such a connotation that gets the wrong idea across, etc.

This at least is one way in which we might see that both methodologies can be applied to the same issue. But there are many others. Just to bring up another, consider a hypothetical example in epistemology. I think it's at least possible, though not likely in this case, that someone could come along and show---from the armchair---that there's something very plausibly odd about the bank cases that makes us ordinarily say Hannah knows in high stakes but we're actually making an error, speaking loosely, or something like that. If so, the armchair methodology would have helped in advancing the inquiry. There might be some experiments we could run that could help confirm this idea. If so, we should run them. But, as Appiah says, the data don't interpret themselves. And for interpreting, we need an armchair, at least for part of it.

Perhaps one will respond that this is such a broad conception of the armchair methodology. But isn't that everyone's conception? No one (I would hope!) thinks the armchair methods of philosophy *only* involve armchair intuitionizing that's akin to conceptual analysis. It involves thinking really hard about philosophically important things without doing experiments. X-phi just involves thinking really hard about philosophically important things and doing experiments to help.

This is an extremely rough sketch of what I have in mind. But these are some rough examples. And this isn't to say that I think all of philosophical theorizing should or does go like this. I just think that with the bank cases, in large part, what's at issue is what we would ordinarily say, presumably because epistemologist are supposed to be talking about knowledge, not schmowledge (or something along the lines this sentiment is meant to draw out).

So with respect to the bank cases, I think that SSIers and contextualists/contrastivists, etc. have gone wrong somewhere (at least with respect to these cases). I'm committed to that for sure. But I don't see why we should say it was their *method* that was flawed. It's more like the conditions they were in or how they employed them. After all, even purely experimental methods can go awry if used improperly or under poor conditions. They are, after all, used by people. So I'm not really looking for a methodology that gives us "accurate and reliable" information in any overly strong sense---e.g. when meant that it's *always* accurate and reliable *no matter who uses it or in what conditions*. I'm happy using any methods that seem appropriate to the task at hand and can give good information when used appropriately in the right conditions. Maybe we don't know for sure and in their entirety what those conditions are or what appropriateness amounts to for the armchair method, but I'm not sure we do entirely for the experimental methods either. We can, I think, acquire more knowledge about such things as we go.

Well, that sure turned out longer than I expected. There you go, you asked for it, Thomas!

jonathan weinberg

Josh, if (a) armchair philosophy is just that which "involves thinking really hard about philosophically important things without doing experiments, and (b) radical experimentalism is x-phi aimed at getting rid of armchair philosophy... then it seems to me that no one is or ever has been a radical experimentalist.

Josh May

Well, I was mostly just trying to be a bit jocular in saying it's just "thinking really hard about stuff," which is definitely oversimplified.

But I get the worry: my conception of armchair methodology is too broad. I feel some of the force of that, but I'm not sure how to get a more narrow yet accurate conception of arm-phi that isn't a straw man. My suspicion is that, with a few exceptions people could point to, both sides who are especially critical of each other aren't characterizing the other side fairly enough---hence the inclusive view I try to maintain.

So---and this is something I pose to all---what is this more narrow conception of the armchair method such that it's significantly undermined by x-phi?

jonathan weinberg

Well, we tend to frame things in terms of the sorts of intuitions about cases that philosophers tend to appeal to, and/or their practices of appealing to such. This is clearly something _meant_ to aim at a narrower target, but it has proved tricky to characterize this target in more discursive terms than just demonstratively or in terms of examples.

Antti Kauppinen

I have lots of sympathy for what Josh is saying. However, I'd like to add a few cents to this to potentially make the dialectic clearer. Jonathan said early on: "it's pretty clear that lots of fundamental opposition to the idea that there's any real positive philosophical value to be gained from examining the judgments of the great unwashed", mentioning me among others. I think this is actually a huge misunderstanding that a lot of experimentalists make about their opposition. My position, certainly, is that *we, the philosophers, are part of the great unwashed*, and this is what gives us the epistemic authority to speak for the folk without running a survey. There's all sorts of qualifications to make, but the position definitely isn't that ordinary people's views don't matter.

The sort of analogy I like is this: if my foreign girlfriend asks me what the Finnish norms are for wearing clothes in public sauna, I can say with a great degree of confidence that you should go naked, without consulting anyone else, given that I've been brought up in the culture and thereby enculturated into its norms. Mutatis mutandis, this goes for the folk-correct application of concepts, which I have learned as part of my habituation into the linguistic community, as an ordinary member of the folk. (If not, why not?) Of course, if you don't think philosophy has anything to do with concepts, this won't impress you, but then you're into magic and mysticism anyway, or a pessimist.

Anyway, this gives what may be another way of making a distinction between radical and moderate experimentalists: radical experimentalists are people like Jonathan who think that you *cannot* find out from the armchair what the folk think, or better, what is intuitive or what ordinary concepts are. Moderate experimentalists like Eddy can allow for that, but believe that for reasons like various biases you're better off with surveys. And anti-experimentalists like myself will raise doubts about the reach of any kind of survey when it comes to getting philosophically interesting results (which naturally involves a potentially controversial view about what sort of results are philosophically interesting).

jonathan weinberg

"radical experimentalists are people like Jonathan who think that you *cannot* find out from the armchair what the folk think, or better, what is intuitive or what ordinary concepts are."

That's just silly -- how on earth are we committed to anything so strong as _that_? A much better gloss would be this claim: when philosophers try to conduct a purely armchair inquiry into such matters, we are at substantial risk to all sorts of errors that we don't know how to control for.

And you're clearly committed to a philosopher/hoi polloi distinction, Antti, in that you think our investigations crucially gain authority because we not just intuit, but that we "do so reflectively, paying careful attention to what is appropriate and why and drawing on the insights of those who have explored the same paths before." On your account, the people in the street who don't have all this reflectiony goodness and philosophical education, who don't have the time, inclination, or training to start to approximate "ideal conditions" -- their judgments have no evidential weight.

tnadelhoffer

"Reflectiony goodness" may be the funniest Weinberg-ism yet! That's good stuff...

Antti Kauppinen

Jonathan, I'm committed to trained philosophers being in a better position to articulate the knowledge they share with other members of the folk. That, to me, is a very different thing from asserting superior insight into essences, or that the folk don't know what philosophers know, or that the views of the folk don't matter.

I don't think that the folk's judgments have no epistemic weight either - just that it can be very low. (I like the Aristotelian line about looking at the verdicts of all, the many, and the wise.) If a judge or a particular judgment fails to meet one or another condition for reliability, we should feel free to discard it. For example, arguably, some of Josh's stuff shows that it's easy to trick the folk to misapply their (that is, our) concept of intentional action. That is interesting if you're a psychologist of a certain bent, but epistemically, not so much.

As to the "substantial risk to all sorts of errors that we don't know how to control for", I've yet to see the argument why the design and interpretation of surveys isn't subject to exactly the same errors - in addition to the even more substantial risk that the subjects ignore parallel cases, fail to mind subtle distinctions, had something unsuitable for breakfast, and so on. If you haven't heard of an experimentalist who has changed the wording of a prompt when failing to get the result he or she expected to get, you haven't had an honest discussion with one.

jonathan weinberg

Antti, that's indeed how I understand your view. But that's orthogonal to the methodological question at hand. There might be a number of reasons that a philosopher could think that we should ignore folk judgments. One reason might be that philosophers have special knowledge that the folk lack. Another might be that philosophers have a special capacity to report on a knowledge that they share with the folk. The latter is your view, and it is a paradigm example of what I was talking about in the comment in question. Look again at what I said: "it's pretty clear that lots of fundamental opposition to the idea that there's any real positive philosophical value to be gained from examining the judgments of the great unwashed." You've softened that a bit with the Aristotelian claim, but your paper on x-phi is pretty resolutely against there being any evidential value for considering folk judgments, which are unlikely to be produced either in ideal circumstances or to be driven only be semantic considerations. On your view, if one wants to find out what is really part of these concepts, one ought ask a philosopher, not a person on the street, as the person on the street is not liable to do a good job of answering your question.

"I've yet to see the argument why the design and interpretation of surveys isn't subject to exactly the same errors." On the one hand, I totally agree! That's why Josh Alexander, Ron Mallon, and I wrote the paper that we did, which is linked to in an earlier comment on this thread.

But it's important to go on to note that the experimentalist may have very powerful methodological resources for facing these issues that armchair methods will necessarily lack. The sciences have fairly well-established tools for detecting & correcting for the sorts of possible errors that restrictionists have written about. E.g., if one is worried that one's results are culturally local, then one can conduct studies in other cultures (and there are very well-established norms for how to go about doing so well), and look to see where there is replication and where there isn't. Both experimentalists and armchair folk are indeed be subject to many of the same sources of errors; but the methodological implications of that fact may turn out to be very different for the two groups.

The other alleged sources of error for experiments that you list are either ones for which there is no reason for worry (breakfast? really? and in a way that will afflict one of one's experimental groups differently from another?), or ones for which there are, again, perfectly good existing methods for looking for & correcting for. E.g., the extant x-phi literature on free will & agency is full of work addressing exactly concerns about "minding subtle distinctions".

This line of yours struck me as odd: "If you haven't heard of an experimentalist who has changed the wording of a prompt when failing to get the result he or she expected to get, you haven't had an honest discussion with one." I mean, that's utterly standard scientific methodology; it's called "piloting". There's not even a whiff of dishonesty about it.

John D.

Student (Little Billy): Professor, what is the correct answer to the bank cases?
Professor: Well you see Little Billy, Hannah knows in both cases.
Little Billy: But how do we know that Professor?
Professor: Because Josh May has thought really, really hard about the cases and that is what he came up with.
Little Billy: I don't understand Professor, hasn't Y and Z also thought really hard about the cases and come up with different answers to the bank cases. Y and Z's reasoning seems pretty good to me also, I don't see why I should think Josh May's reasoning is better than theirs.
Student (Francis B.): Little Billy, if you are not comfortable just appealing to the hard thinking of others you can always appeal to the research on this issue.
Professor: Yes, but Francis, that is not the method philosophers use.
Little Billy: I'm confused Professor, shouldn't we try and provide answers to our queries with any and all means available? I mean, if the stakes are high, and there are a variety of well reasoned answers to a given problem, I sure would feel a lot more comfortable appealing to an answer provided by the rigors of the scientific method, than appealing to the hard thinking of one person.
Professor: Oh Little Billy, when your intuitions become more polished you'll understand.

The comments to this entry are closed.

3QD Prize 2012: Wesley Buckwalter