Philosophical expertise under the microscope

Synthese 197 (3):1077-1098 (2020)
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Recent experimental studies indicate that epistemically irrelevant factors can skew our intuitions, and that some degree of scepticism about appealing to intuition in philosophy is warranted. In response, some have claimed that philosophers are experts in such a way as to vindicate their reliance on intuitions—this has become known as the ‘expertise defence’. This paper explores the viability of the expertise defence, and suggests that it can be partially vindicated. Arguing that extant discussion is problematically imprecise, we will finesse the notion of ‘philosophical expertise’ in order to better reflect the complex reality of the different practices involved in philosophical inquiry. On this basis, we offer a new version of the expertise defence that allows for distinct types of philosophical expertise. The upshot of our approach is that wholesale vindications or rejections of the expertise defence are shown to be unwarranted; we must instead turn to local, piecemeal investigations of philosophical expertise. Lastly, in the spirit of taking our own advice, we exemplify how recent developments from experimental philosophy lend themselves to this approach, and can empirically support one instance of a successful expertise defence.

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Author Profiles

Miguel Egler
Tilburg University
Lewis Ross
London School of Economics

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Philosophy Without Intuitions.Herman Cappelen - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Epiphenomenal qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.

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