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09/12/2011

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Peter B. Reiner

Actually, the whole point of doing experiments is to disprove one's pet hypotheses...confirmation is never as interesting as being forced to scratch one's head in an attempt to understand how one's worldview (be it micro- or macroscopic) is incompatible with reality.

Fritz Warfield

That some philosophers who are not experimental philosophers are critical in this way isn't comical at all.

There are philosophers who are not experimental philosophers who are quite well trained in the wide range of issues associated with experimental design - some as well trained and knowledgable as anyone else in the field of philosophy.

I do not know whether Professor Wood is one of them. I suspect he is not but that he may well have spoken to a real expert or two about these issues.

Eddy Nahmias

If not comical, then a bit ironic. Anyone who has done x-phi studies does not "underestimate the difficulty of designing experiments and research programs"--we recognize the difficulties as we engage in the practice. Presumably, what Wood means is (a) students underestimate the difficulty before they enter the fray or (b) practitioners of x-phi do not succeed in *overcoming* the difficulties. (a) is plausible enough (and true of most students entering philosophy in general!). Regarding (b), as I've said many times before, we started a decade ago; we've come a long way since in terms of addressing both methodological and metaphilosophical challenges. No need to disparage the efforts so soon and so harshly.

Indeed, I wonder: is there any subfield in philosophy which has led someone to claim: "a lot of it is false, misleading, pointless at best and maybe even harmful"?

Wesley Buckwalter

"That more people believe one thing over another, I don't think there is anything very deep to be learned that way"....It's 2011, I thought by now even harshest critics stopped misrepresenting x-phi projects as mere polling!

Nonetheless, as Thomas mentions, of anything you might dislike about the use of experimental methods, accusations coming from traditional philosophers about xphi lacking *research objectivity* have got to be among the toughest sell. Weren't worries concerning philosophical prejudices and presuppositions in intuition-case methods one of the very reasons that inspired the first experiments to begin with? Not sure if running an hypothesis driven experiment is obviously less objective than coming up with a though experiment to defend your philosophical view threatened by rival argument. But as one scrolls through a list of xphi papers in say, free will, or knowledge, or intentionality, it's easy to come away with this sense that there is much less interest in defending some kind of big general -ism then there is a sort of happiness to be proven wrong in exchange for gaining a better understanding of the relevant question/mechanism/etc at issue.

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3QD Prize 2012: Wesley Buckwalter