Chapter

A Big Mistake: Experimental Philosophy

Herman Cappelen

in Philosophy without Intuitions

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644865
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739026 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644865.003.0011
A Big Mistake: Experimental Philosophy

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Experimental philosophers are right in thinking that if philosophers rely on intuitions as evidence, then we should attempt to find out whether philosophers’ intuitions are reliable, widely shared and subject to biases. It has, however, already been shown that philosophers do not in fact rely on intuitions. It follows that the experimental-philosophy research program of investigating people’s intuitions about cases (and the factors to which they are sensitive) is irrelevant to philosophical theorizing. Negative experimental philosophy attacks a practice that doesn’t exist. Positive experimental philosophers attempt to support a practice that doesn’t exist. When we try reworking the experimentalist’s challenge without mentioning ‘intuitions’ it collapses into either a general skepticism about judgment or the unsurprising claim that our judgments about difficult issues are less reliable than our judgments about the easier ones. Because it has been argued that philosophy can do without intuitions, this includes the intuitions of philosophers or so-called experts as much as the folk.

Keywords: intuition; experimental philosophy; philosophical expertise; folk judgments; judgment skepticism; Weinberg

Chapter.  4044 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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