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Nonetheless, most research in experimental philosophy makes use of a collection of closely connected methods that in some way involve the study of intuitions. The remainder of this section aims to characterize the different projects experimental philosophers have pursued using these methods and their relevance for broader questions in philosophy. The practice of exploring intuitions has its origins in a more traditional philosophical approach that long predates the birth of experimental philosophy see the entry on intuition.

Research within this more traditional approach often relies on the idea that we can make progress on one or another topic by looking at intuitions about that topic. For example, within epistemology, it has been suggested that we can make progress on questions about the nature of knowledge by looking at intuitions about whether certain states count as knowledge.

Similarly, within moral philosophy, it has been suggested that we can make progress on questions about moral obligation by looking at intuitions about what actions certain agents are obligated to perform. Similar approaches have been advocated in numerous other areas of philosophy. There is a complex literature within the analytic tradition about how to understand this traditional method. Some argue that the study of intuitions gives us insight into concepts Jackson , others argue that the study of intuitions gives us a more direct sort of insight into the actual properties or relations those concepts pick out Sosa , and still others argue that this whole way of conceiving of the project is a mistaken one e.

It is commonplace to divide existing research in experimental philosophy into distinct projects in accordance with their different relationships to this prior tradition. Dividing things up in this way, one arrives at three basic kinds of research in experimental philosophy. Such research aims to provide evidence that the method used in the more traditional work is in some way flawed or unreliable.

For example, it has been argued that intuitions differ across demographic factors such as gender or ethnicity, or that they are subject to order effects, or that they can be influenced by incidental emotion e. To the extent that intuitions show these effects, it is argued, we should not be relying uncritically on intuition as a method for addressing substantive philosophical questions. This project has triggered a large and multi-faceted literature among philosophers interested in its metaphilosophical implications Brown b; Cappelen ; Deutsch ; Weinberg ; Weinberg et al.

Much of this work is quite closely tied to prior philosophical work about the role of intuition in philosophy more generally. Second, some research in experimental philosophy aims to make further progress on precisely the sorts of questions that motivated prior work within analytic philosophy. Thus, this research looks at epistemic intuitions as a way of making progress in epistemology, moral intuitions as a way of making progress in moral philosophy, and so forth. Experimental philosophers pursuing this second project have offered various different accounts of the way in which facts about intuitions could yield progress on these philosophical issues, but the most common approach proceeds by advancing some specific hypothesis about the underlying cognitive processes that generate intuitions in a particular domain.

The suggestion is then that this hypothesis can help us assess which intuitions in this domain are worthy of our trust and which should simply be dismissed or ignored Gerken ; Leslie ; Greene ; Nagel Work within this second project has inspired a certain amount of metaphilosophical debate, but its main impact on the philosophical literature has been not at the level of metaphilosophy but rather in discussions of individual philosophical questions. Work in this vein typically does not focus primarily on more abstract theories about the role of intuitions in philosophy. Instead, it draws more on theories about the particular topic under study theories of knowledge, free will, causation.

The third type of research being conducted in experimental philosophy is not concerned either way with the kind of project pursued in more traditional analytic philosophy; it is just doing something else entirely. For example, much of the experimental philosophy research in moral psychology is concerned with questions that truly are about moral psychology itself.

Research in this third vein tends to be highly interdisciplinary. Thus, work on any particular topic within this third vein tends to be at least relatively continuous with work on that same topic in other disciplines psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, etc. The distinction between these projects has proven helpful within metaphilosophical work on the significance of experimental philosophy, but it should be noted that the metaphilosophical distinction between these three projects does not correspond in any straightforward way to the distinctions between the different concrete research programs experimental philosophers pursue on free will intuitions, on moral intuitions, on epistemic intuitions, etc.

Each of these concrete research programs can be relevant to a number of different projects, and indeed, it often happens that a single paper reports a result that seems relevant to more than one of these projects. Thus, as we review the actual experimental research coming out of experimental philosophy, we will need to turn away from the metaphilosophical distinction between projects and turn instead to distinctions between concrete research topics. The best way to get a sense of what experimental philosophy is all about is not just to consider it in the abstract but to look in detail at a few ongoing research programs in the field.

Accordingly, we proceed in this section by reviewing existing research in four specific areas: the negative program, free will, the impact of moral judgment, and epistemology. We focus on these four areas because they have received an especially large amount of attention within the existing experimental philosophy of literature. We should note, however, that experimental philosophers have explored an enormous range of different questions, and work in these four specific areas comprises only a relatively small percentage of the experimental philosophy literature as a whole.

The subsequent philosophical discussion often proceeds by setting out various hypotheses, e. Socrates typically expects, and receives, agreement from his interlocutor. Work in the negative program of experimental philosophy uses empirical work to challenge this traditional philosophical project. Two somewhat different challenges have been developed. One challenge arises from the prospect of systematic diversity in how different populations of people think about philosophical questions. The possibility of such diversity had been raised before e.

For instance, an early study reported differences between East Asian students and Western students on famous cases from epistemology Weinberg et al. Another early study provided evidence for cultural differences in judgments about reference. East Asians were more likely than Westerners to have descriptivist judgments about the reference of proper names Machery et al. Some studies have also found gender differences in intuitions about philosophical cases see, e.

This apparent diversity in intuitions about philosophical matters has been used to challenge the use of intuitions in philosophy to tell us about the nature of things like knowledge and reference. If intuitions about knowledge turn out to exhibit diversity between populations, then this looks to put pressure on a traditional philosophical project. In rough form, the worry arises from the following claims:.

Each of these claims has been challenged. Some argue that philosophers do not—or should not—rely on intuitions thus rejecting D1 see section 3. A pluralist might allow, or even celebrate, this diversity. Even if other communities have different epistemic values than we do, this need not undermine our valuing knowledge, as it is construed in our community e. A more conservative response to the challenge, which leaves traditional philosophy largely untouched, is to question whether there really is diversity between populations in intuitions about philosophical categories.

One way to develop this response is to claim that participants in different populations might simply interpret the scenarios in different ways; in that case, we could explain their different answers by saying that they are responding to different questions e. More importantly, a growing body of empirical evidence has called into question the claim that there really are large differences in philosophical intuitions across populations.

Some of the original findings of culture differences have not replicated e. These findings provide strong reason to believe that some of the effects suggested by early experimental philosophy studies do not, in fact, exist at all. Moreover, experimental philosophers have also uncovered robust cross-cultural uniformity.

For instance, one recent cross-cultural study examined intuitions about Gettier cases across four very different cultures Brazil, India, Japan, and the USA , with participants in all groups tending to deny knowledge to the protagonist in Gettier cases Machery et al. In any case, these kinds of results suggest that there is less diversity than had been suggested. The foregoing argument is based on diversity between populations. But experimental philosophers in the negative program have also used intra-individual diversity to undermine traditional philosophical methods Swain et al.

The same person will give different responses depending on apparently irrelevant factors of presentation. Sensitivity to contextual factors has been used to challenge the philosophical use of intuition in a way that is somewhat distinct from the diversity argument. The challenge begins with the same assumption about the role of intuitions in philosophy, but then draws on somewhat different considerations:. Thus, philosophers are on shaky epistemic ground when they rely on their intuitions to try to glean philosophical truths.

See section 3. Although there are replicable effects on the influence of contextual factors, pace S2 many of these effects seem too small to threaten the practice of relying on intuitions see, e. The effect might amount to the difference between 2. For instance, judgments about certain moral dilemmas and judgments about certain epistemic cases are changed depending on previously seen cases e.

On this view, we can grant that participants change their judgment, but deny that they are doing so in a way that is epistemically inappropriate. For instance, only some thought experiments are susceptible to order effects, and it turns out that for these thought experiments, people have lower confidence in their responses e. This suggests contra D5 that there might be an internal resource—confidence—that can be used to discern which judgments are epistemically unstable. Research in experimental philosophy has explored many aspects of lay beliefs regarding free will.

Experimental philosophers have designed improved scales for measuring belief in free will Nadelhoffer et al. But the most intensively studied issue concerns intuitions about whether free will is compatible with determinism. Experimental philosophers have argued that the philosophical defense of incompatibilism depends on intuitions e. This then generates a question that invites an empirical inquiry: is incompatibilism intuitive? Nahmias et al. One of the first experimental studies on free will found that people seemed to have compatibilist intuitions.

Reason Without Freedom: The Problem of Epistemic Normativity - CRC Press Book

Participants were presented with a scenario describing a deterministic universe, and then asked whether a person in the scenario was free and morally responsible Nahmias et al. In one case, participants were asked to imagine a future scenario in which there is a supercomputer that is capable of predicting all future human behavior when provided with a complete description of the universe along with the laws of nature. In this scenario, a man robs a bank, and participants are asked whether the man is morally responsible for his action.

Somewhat surprisingly, most participants gave compatibilist answers, saying that the person was morally blameworthy. This basic finding held across a number of scenarios. In these early studies on intuitions about free will and moral responsibility, the description of determinism focused on the fact that in a deterministic universe, every event is in principle predictable from the past and the laws. In addition, the scenarios involved particular agents in our world doing bad things. Later studies emphasized the causal nature of determinism—that what happens at a given point is completely caused by what happened previously—and stressed that what happens in a deterministic universe is inevitable given the past.

However, when asked a more abstract question about whether it is possible in general for people in such a deterministic universe to be free and responsible, participants tend to say that morally responsibility is not possible in a deterministic universe. This incompatibilist response was also found in a cross cultural sample with participants from India, Hong Kong, Colombia, and the United States Sarkissian et al. In addition to the abstract nature of the question, another important element seems to be whether one is considering an alternate deterministic universe or contemplating the possibility that our own universe is deterministic.

Thus, it seems like people give compatibilist responses under some conditions and incompatibilist responses under others. One reaction to this apparent inconsistency is to treat one set of responses as defective. So, if people interpret determinism to mean bypassing , it is perfectly rational for them to infer the lack of free will and responsibility from bypassing. However, it seems to be a flat-out confusion to interpret determinism as bypassing.

Even if determinism is true, our behavior might be caused not bypassed by our mental states. Surprisingly, people do make bypassing judgments when given a description of causal determinism. This suggests that people go through the following confused process: determinism means bypassing, and bypassing means no free will. That is, people take determinism to entail that there is no free will, and it is this judgment that there is no free will that leads to the bypassing judgment. What about the compatibilist responses? Some experimental philosophers maintain that it is these judgments that are distorted.

On one view, the distortion is caused by emotional reactions e. Thus, the state of the evidence currently suggests that people do have both incompatibilist and compatibilist intuitions. Future empirical work might uncover more clearly what factors and processes draws people in one direction or the other.

There are also open questions about whether the role of different psychological mechanisms in intuitions about free will has implications for philosophical questions for whether we are truly free and responsible.


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It is common to distinguish between two kinds of judgments that people make about morally significant situations. On one hand, people can make straightforwardly moral judgments e. On the other, they can make judgments that might be morally relevant but that still appear to be in some important sense non-moral judgments about whether the agent acted intentionally, whether she caused certain outcomes, whether she knew what she was doing.

A question now arises as to how to understand the relationship between these two different kinds of judgments. One possible view would be that the relationship is entirely unidirectional. However, one might think that things do not go in the opposite direction. It is not as though your non-moral judgment that the agent acted intentionally could depend on a prior moral judgment that her action was wrong. Although this view might seem intuitively compelling, a series of studies in experimental philosophy have called it into question.

Such results have been obtained for a wide variety of different apparently non-moral judgments.

Epistemological Problems of Testimony

These findings might be philosophically relevant at two different levels. On one hand, each individual effect might be relevant to philosophical work that aims to understand the corresponding concept or property. Thus, the findings about intentional action judgments might be relevant to philosophical work about intentional action, those about happiness judgments might be relevant to philosophical work about happiness, and so forth. At the same time, the general finding that moral judgment has this pervasive influence might be relevant to philosophical work that focuses on the human mind and the way people make sense of the world.

For example, these findings could help us to understand the nature of folk psychology or the relationship between our ordinary folk theories and more systematic scientific theories. To make progress on these two issues, research has focused on trying to understand why these effects arise. These hypotheses then, in turn, have implications for philosophical questions both about specific concepts and properties and about the human mind. Existing research has led to a proliferation of hypotheses, drawing on theoretical frameworks from a variety of fields see Cova for a review of seventeen hypotheses about the intentional action effect.

Still, although there are numerous distinct specific hypotheses, it seems that the basic approaches can be grouped into four broad families. First, it might be that the effect is not truly driven by moral judgment. Existing studies show that people make different judgments depending on whether the agent is doing something helpful or harmful, but of course, there are many differences between helpful and harmful actions other than their moral status.

Agents will tend to have different sorts of mental states when they are doing something helpful than when they are doing something harmful, and it might be that this difference in mental states is driving all of the observed effects. Second, it might be that the effect is indeed driven by moral judgment but that it is the result of an error. People believe the agent to be blameworthy and want to justify that belief. This desire to justify blame then distorts their judgments about what might seem to be purely factual matters.

However, it is also possible for factors to influence the use of our words without influencing the use of these concepts, and some researchers have suggested that this is the process at work in the present effects. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the relevant words e. On these sorts of views, people are not necessarily making a mistake when their use of language is impacted by moral judgment, but all the same, moral judgment is not playing a role in their more basic capacities to make sense of the world. For example, it has been argued that the concept of happiness is itself a value-laden concept Phillips et al.

Debates between these rival views remain ongoing. Within the more recent literature, discussion of these questions has become increasingly interdisciplinary, with many of the key contributions turning to methods from cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, or computational cognitive science.

But work in experimental epistemology has not been dominated by any one single issue or question. Rather, it has been divided among a number of different strands of research, which have each been pursued separately. Suppose that Keith considers some available evidence and then concludes correctly that the bank will be open on Saturday.

Now consider two cases. Now out: My new book, The Case for Contextualism. Blog, hopelessly devoted to epistemology: Certain Doubts. Graduate Programs strong in epistemology 3. Other Epistemology sites. From time to time I am asked, mostly by philosophers who have an undergraduate student who is interested in going on to do graduate work in philosophy, which are the best departments to go to for epistemology.

These specialty rankings are determined by a survey of experts in the field. The names of the evaluators for epistemology are listed right below the epistemology rankings. Here are the top 6 programs in epistemology, according to the PGR: Oxford and Rutgers listed alphabetically together form Group 1, with rounded mean scores of 5; New York University is by itself in Group 2, with a rounded mean 4. Below are very brief descriptions of the six departments in the first three Groups, and some general advice on choosing programs in epistemology. Boasting several very prominent epistemologists on its faculty, Rutgers certainly belongs in the top group.

Additionally, and importantly, Rutgers also has several excellent faculty members who, though epistemology is not their main area of research, have done or do good work in the area: Brian Loar, Barry Loewer, and Brian McLaughlin. A graduate student could easily put together an outstanding dissertation committee for a wide variety of dissertation topics in epistemology at Rutgers. Joining Williamson to form an impressive group of epistemologists are Quassim Cassam, John Hawthorne, and Ralph Wedgwood, and several other faculty who have episemology as an area of interest.

When it was subsequently announced that Sturgeon had accepted an offer to come to Oxford, I wondered on this page whether that would result in Oxford moving up into Group 1 with Rutgers. Turns out, it did. Foley is serving as a Dean at NYU, as well as being a member of the philosophy department, so there is no doubt very stiff competition for his time and energy.

NYU also has some other outstanding philosophers who, though epistemology might not be among their current main area of research, would be very good to work with there. And there are several other faculty members at NYU whom I think it would be very exciting to work with in epistemology.

NYU should be viewed as having improved in epistemology since the previous surveys, since Wright, who was listed as only a quarter-time visitor on the 06 surveys, has since become a full-timer at NYU, and was listed as such in the new surveys. However, the net results of all the changes at the top epistemology departments is that Oxford moved out of its tie with NYU in Group 2 up to a tie with Rutgers in Group 1.

I wish the PGR would report the actual means, rounded to three significant digits e.


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  4. I would prefer this danger be handled by reporting the means as I suggested, but warning readers against placing too much importance in small differences. The University of Arizona is the newcomer to Group 3, moving up from its Group 4 ranking in the epistemology rankings, due to the addition of a leading epistemologist, Stewart Cohen. Moving down out of Group 3 are the St. Harman is joined by two up-and-coming, younger-but-tenured epistemologists, both of whom have very significant, first-rate papers to their name already: Thomas Kelly, whose work is centered squarely in epistemology; and Adam Elga, much of whose work is in the area, though he works in other areas, too.

    Yale is my own department, so there is danger of bias here. Other epistemologists at Yale are George Bealer, much of whose important work has been in epistemology, especially on a priori knowledge, and Tamar Gendler, co-editor along with John Hawthorne of the prestigiousOxford Studies in Epistemology, much of whose interesting epistemological work to date is in areas of overlap between epistemology and other areas of philosophy e.

    For the most part, and unsurprisingly, the top departments in epistemology tend to also be among the top programs overall in philosophy. In fact, the top three programs in epistemology also constitute the top three overall programs in the English-speaking world though in a different order, NYU being first overall, Oxford second, and Rutgers third. Bad because, being among the top overall programs, these top epistemology departments are no doubt highly selective in admissions and therefore tough to get into. Just going by overall ranking, which is all I really have to go by here, my guess is that Yale and, to a greater extent, Arizona, should be significantly easier to get into than the others.

    But many of the programs in Group 4 in epistemology are probably significantly easier still. Prospective students interested in epistemology are therefore well-advised to also look into other programs strong in epistemology; see the list of strong programs in the PGR, following the above links. There are many programs, especially those listed in Group 4, that would be excellent choices for prospective epistemologists. On that score, you might do well to read some of the published papers of the relevant faculty, and find someone whose work interests you.

    Still, many do, and one can get quite a bit of helpful information on-line. Hope this is of some help, future colleagues in epistemology. Talk to your advisors about it. This list is far from exhaustive. Still, many have e-mailed to tell me that they find this list very helpful, despite its limitations. A few epistemologists are listed without any papers listed below their names. The Epistemology Page. Contents: 1. Other Epistemology sites 1. Theory of Knowledge Fall M. Bergmann Purdue University Phil. Black University of Utah Phil. Epistemology Spring D. Braun University of Rochester Phil.

    Cross, K. DeRose Yale University Phil. Contemporary Epistemology Spring K. Invariantism in Epistemology Spring K. Skepticism Fall C. Dunlap University of Michigan, Flint Phil. Elgin Harvard University Phil. Feldman Universtiy of Rochester Phil. Fitelson University of California, Berkeley Phil. Probability and Induction Spring B. Fitelson and S. Roush University of California, Berkeley Phil. Contemporary Debates in Epistemology Spring B. Contemporary Responses to Skepticism seminar Fall T. Gendler Cornell University Phil. Proseminar in Philosophy 1st half on epistemology Fall P.

    Greenough University of St.

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    Andrews Phil. Contemporary Epistemology Fall P. Epistemology Fall G. Harman Princeton University Phil. Horgan University of Arizona Phil. Huemer University of Colorado, Boulder Phil. Kelly Princeton University Phil. Lackey Northern Illinois University Phil. Loeb University of Michigan Phil. Lyons University of Arkansas Phil. Epistemology Fall J. Pryor Harvard University Phil. Pryor Princeton University Phil. Pryor New York University G Rives Union College Phil. Spring J. Stanley Rutgers University Phil. Stich Rutgers University Phil. Experimental Philosophy — graduate seminar Spring M.

    Tooley University of Colorado, Boulder Phil. Graduate Programs Strong in Epistemology From time to time I am asked, mostly by philosophers who have an undergraduate student who is interested in going on to do graduate work in philosophy, which are the best departments to go to for epistemology.

    Loffler and P. Weingartner, eds. Heil, ed. Robert F. William P. Alston , died Sept. Peterson, ed. Greco and E. Sosa, ed. Hahn, ed. Chisholm Open-Court Jordan, ed. Chignell and A. Dole, ed. Greco, ed. Moral Knowledge and Ethical Character Oxford, Administrator of JanusBlog , a virtue theory including virtue epistemology discussion forum. Coliva, ed. Long , Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 : V, Epistemology: Epistemology Modalized, Routledge, James R. Hendricks, D. Pritchard, ed.

    Reading Epistemology, Blackwell, Schantz, ed. Grundmann, ed. Knowledge: Readings in Contemporary Epistemology, ed. Ludlow, N. Martin, eds. Michael A. Samuels and S. Elio, ed. Shanks, ed. Loeffler and P. Bluhm and C. Nimtz, eds. Steup, E. Externalism, Foundations vs. Virtues, Blackwell Publishing, BonJour and E. Kvanvig ed. Meggle, ed. Meigers, ed.

    Perception and Reason Oxford UP, Berit Brogaard , University of Missouri, St. Louis — blog: Lemmings. Peirce Society 35 : Jessica Brown , University of St. Goldberg, ed. Stern, ed. Carruthers and P. Smith, eds. Casullo ed. Smith, A. Jokic, eds. Gendler, J. Hawthorne, eds. Chignell, A. Dole, eds. Andrew D. Jaggar, ed. Smith, ed. Feldman, Evidentialism, Oxford UP, Josep E. Charles B. Steup, ed. Chisholm Open Court, V, Epistemology. Wayne A. Popkin, ed.

    Dole and A. Chignell, ed. Shaffer and M. Veber, eds. Trent Dougherty, Baylor University with T. Villanueva, ed. Nuccetelli, ed. Hawthorne and B. Feldman, T. Warfield, eds. Considered Judgment, Princeton UP, Meijers, ed. Theodore J. A Defense of the Given, Rowman and Littlefield, Conee, Evidentialism, Oxford UP, Bovens, S. Hartmann, J. A Reply to Erik J. Reprinted in R.

    Pennock, ed. Steup and E. Luper, ed. DePaul and W. Ramsey, ed. Reprinted in Skepticism DeRose and Warfield, DePaul, ed.

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    Metaepistemology and Skepticism Rowman and Littlefield, Tamar Szabo Gendler , Yale University ed. Lopes and M. Kieran, ed. But can we know that water does? Anthony Gillies , University of Michigan with K. Pritchard, P.

    Greenough, eds. Cappelen, eds. Lackey and E. Sosa, eds. Alan H.

    Alvin I. Pritchard and P. Pritchard et al. Feldman and T. Fairweather and L. Zagzebski, eds.