Experimental philosophy uses experimental research methods from psychology and cognitive science in order to investigate both philosophical and metaphilosophical questions. It explores philosophical questions about the nature of the psychological world - the very structure or meaning of our concepts of things, and about the nature of the non-psychological world - the things themselves. It also explores metaphilosophical questions about the nature of philosophical inquiry and its proper methodology. This book provides a detailed and provocative introduction to this innovative field, (...) focusing on the relationship between experimental philosophy and the aims and methods of more traditional analytic philosophy. Special attention is paid to carefully examining experimental philosophy's quite different philosophical programs, their individual strengths and weaknesses, and the different kinds of contributions that they can make to our philosophical understanding. Clear and accessible throughout, it situates experimental philosophy within both a contemporary and historical context, explains its aims and methods, examines and critically evaluates its most significant claims and arguments, and engages with its critics. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is a new interdisciplinary field that uses methods normally associated with psychology to investigate questions normally associated with philosophy. The present review focuses on research in experimental philosophy on four central questions. First, why is it that people's moral judgments appear to influence their intuitions about seemingly nonmoral questions? Second, do people think that moral questions have objective answers, or do they see morality as fundamentally relative? Third, do people believe in free will, and do they see free (...) will as compatible with determinism? Fourth, how do people determine whether an entity is conscious? (shrink)
This book argues that this powerful technique permits the social sciences to meet an explanation, in which one 'grows' the phenomenon of interest in an artificial society of interacting agents: heterogeneous, boundedly rational actors.
Our brains were designed for tribal life, for getting along with a select group of others and for fighting off everyone else. But modern times have forced the world’s tribes into a shared space, resulting in epic clashes of values along with unprecedented opportunities. As the world shrinks, the moral lines that divide us become more salient and more puzzling. We fight over everything from tax codes to gay marriage to global warming, and we wonder where, if at all, we (...) can find our common ground. (shrink)
This article is part of a larger project that explores how to channel people’s passion for popular arts into legal social justice by reconceiving law as a kind of poetry and justice as dance, and exploring different possible relationships between said legal poetry and dancing justice. I begin by rehearsing my previous new conception of social justice as organismic empowerment, and my interpretive method of dancing-with. I then apply this method to the following four “ethico-political choreographies of justice”: the choral (...) dance of souls qua winged chariot-teams, a dancingly beautiful friendship with the community, a tightrope-dance of the cool, and humans dancingly reimagined as positioned actors in fluidly moving groups. I then synthesize these analyses into “dancing justice,” defined as the dynamic equilibrium sustained by a critical mass of a community’s members comporting themselves like social dancers. (shrink)
I draw on neurobiological evidence to defend the rationalist thesis that moral judgments are essentially dependent on reasoning, not emotions (conceived as distinct from inference). The neuroscience reveals that moral cognition arises from domain-general capacities in the brain for inferring, in particular, the consequences of an agent’s action, the agent’s intent, and the rules or norms relevant to the context. Although these capacities entangle inference and affect, blurring the reason/emotion dichotomy doesn’t preferentially support sentimentalism. The argument requires careful consideration of (...) the empirical evidence (from neuroimaging to psychopathology) and philosophical analysis of the commitments of rationalism versus sentimentalism in ethics. (shrink)
Pessimism claims an impressive following--from Rousseau, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, to Freud, Camus, and Foucault. Yet "pessimist" remains a term of abuse--an accusation of a bad attitude--or the diagnosis of an unhappy psychological state. Pessimism is thought of as an exclusively negative stance that inevitably leads to resignation or despair. Even when pessimism looks like utter truth, we are told that it makes the worst of a bad situation. Bad for the individual, worse for the species--who would actually counsel pessimism? (...) class='Hi'>Joshua Foa Dienstag does. In Pessimism, he challenges the received wisdom about pessimism, arguing that there is an unrecognized yet coherent and vibrant pessimistic philosophical tradition. More than that, he argues that pessimistic thought may provide a critically needed alternative to the increasingly untenable progressivist ideas that have dominated thinking about politics throughout the modern period. Laying out powerful grounds for pessimism's claim that progress is not an enduring feature of human history, Dienstag argues that political theory must begin from this predicament. He persuasively shows that pessimism has been--and can again be--an energizing and even liberating philosophy, an ethic of radical possibility and not just a criticism of faith. The goal--of both the pessimistic spirit and of this fascinating account of pessimism--is not to depress us, but to edify us about our condition and to fortify us for life in a disordered and disenchanted universe. (shrink)
Joshua Gert offers an original account of normative facts and properties, those which have implications for how we ought to behave. He argues that our ability to think and talk about normative notions such as reasons and benefits is dependent on how we respond to the world around us, including how we respond to the actions of other people.
The concept of the sublime was crucial to the thought of Immanuel Kant, who defined it as the experience of what is great in power, size, or number. From ancient times to the present, the aesthetic experience of the sublime has been associated with morality, but if we want to be able to exclude evil, fascistic, or terroristic uses of the sublime—the inescapable awe generated by the Nuremberg rallies, for example—we require a systematic justification of the claim that there are (...) internal moral constraints on the sublime. In _Kant on Sublimity and Morality_, Joshua Rayman argues that Kant alone provides the system by which we can bind sublimity to moral ideas, the exhibition of freedom, the production of respect, and violence towards inclinations. (shrink)
As COVID-19 spread, clinicians warned of mental illness epidemics within the coronavirus pandemic. Funding for digital mental health is surging and researchers are calling for widespread adoption to address the mental health sequalae of COVID-19. -/- We consider whether these technologies improve mental health outcomes and whether they exacerbate existing health inequalities laid bare by the pandemic. We argue the evidence for efficacy is weak and the likelihood of increasing inequalities is high. -/- First, we review recent trends in digital (...) mental health. Next, we turn to the clinical literature to show that many technologies proposed as a response to COVID-19 are unlikely to improve outcomes. Then, we argue that even evidence-based technologies run the risk of increasing health disparities. We conclude by suggesting that policymakers should not allocate limited resources to the development of many digital mental health tools and should focus instead on evidence-based solutions to address mental health inequalities. (shrink)
The burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we’re told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...) the heavy influence of automatic and unconscious processes that have been shaped by evolutionary pressures, we needn’t reject ordinary moral psychology as fundamentally flawed or in need of serious repair. Reason can be corrupted in ethics just as in other domains, but a special pessimism about morality in particular is unwarranted. Moral judgment and motivation are fundamentally rational enterprises not beholden to the passions. (shrink)
It has been standard philosophical practice in analytic philosophy to employ intuitions generated in response to thought-experiments as evidence in the evaluation of philosophical claims. In part as a response to this practice, an exciting new movement—experimental philosophy—has recently emerged. This movement is unified behind both a common methodology and a common aim: the application of methods of experimental psychology to the study of the nature of intuitions. In this paper, we will introduce two different views concerning the relationship that (...) holds between experimental philosophy and the future of standard philosophical practice (what we call, the proper foundation view and the restrictionist view), discuss some of the more interesting and important results obtained by proponents of both views, and examine the pressure these results put on analytic philosophers to reform standard philosophical practice. We will also defend experimental philosophy from some recent objections, suggest future directions for work in experimental philosophy, and suggest what future lines of epistemological response might be available to those wishing to defend analytic epistemology from the challenges posed by experimental philosophy. (shrink)
We investigate the value of persons. Our primary goal is to chart a path from equal and extreme value to infinite value. We advance two arguments. Each argument offers a reason to think that equal and extreme value are best accounted for if we are infinitely valuable. We then raise some difficult but fruitful questions about the possible grounds or sources of our infinite value, if we indeed have such value.
Closure for justification is the claim that thinkers are justified in believing the logical consequences of their justified beliefs, at least when those consequences are competently deduced. Many have found this principle to be very plausible. Even more attractive is the special case of Closure known as Single-Premise Closure. In this paper, I present a challenge to Single-Premise Closure. The challenge is based on the phenomenon of rational self-doubt – it can be rational to be less than fully confident in (...) one's beliefs and patterns of reasoning. In rough outline, the argument is as follows: Consider a thinker who deduces a conclusion from a justified initial premise via an incredibly long sequence of small competent deductions. Surely, such a thinker should suspect that he has made a mistake somewhere. And surely, given this, he should not believe the conclusion of the deduction even though he has a justified belief in the initial premise. (shrink)
How to Do Things with Fictions considers how fictional works, ranging from Chaucer to Beckett, subject readers to a series of exercises meant to fortify their mental capacities. While it is often assumed that fictions must be informative or morally improving in order to be of any real benefit to us, certain texts defy this assumption by functioning as training-grounds for the capacities: in engaging with them we stand not to become more knowledgeable or more virtuous but more skilled, whether (...) at rational thinking, at maintaining necessary illusions, at achieving tranquillity of mind, or even at religious faith. Instead of offering us propositional knowledge, these texts yield know-how; rather than attempting to instruct by means of their content, they hone capacities by means of their form; far from seducing with the promise of instantaneous transformation, they recognize, with Aristotle, that change is a matter of sustained and patient practice. (shrink)
Advocates of the use of intuitions in philosophy argue that they are treated as evidence because they are evidential. Their opponents agree that they are treated as evidence, but argue that they should not be so used, since they are the wrong kinds of things. In contrast to both, we argue that, despite appearances, intuitions are not treated as evidence in philosophy whether or not they should be. Our positive account is that intuitions are a subclass of inclinations to believe. (...) Our thesis explains why intuitions play a role in persuasion and inquiry, without conceding that they are evidential. The account also makes predictions about the structure of intuitions that are confirmed by independent arguments. (shrink)
Social commentators have long asked whether racial categories should be conserved or eliminated from our practices, discourse, institutions, and perhaps even private thoughts. In _A Theory of Race_, Joshua Glasgow argues that this set of choices unnecessarily presents us with too few options. Using both traditional philosophical tools and recent psychological research to investigate folk understandings of race, Glasgow argues that, as ordinarily conceived, race is an illusion. However, our pressing need to speak to and make sense of social (...) life requires that we employ something like racial discourse. These competing pressures, Glasgow maintains, ultimately require us to stop conceptualizing race as something biological, and instead understand it as an entirely social phenomenon. (shrink)
Substance has been a leading idea in the history of Western philosophy. _Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz_ explain the nature and existence of individual substances, including both living things and inanimate objects. Specifically written for students new to this important and often complex subject, _Substance_ provides both the historical and contemporary overview of the debate. Great Philosophers of the past, such as Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Locke, and Berkeley were profoundly interested in the concept of substance. And, the authors (...) argue, a belief in the existence of substances is an integral part of our everyday world view. But what constitutes substance? Was Aristotle right to suggest that artefacts like tables and ships don't really exist? _Substance: Its Nature and Existence_ is one of the first non-technical, accessible guides to this central problem and will be of great use to students of metaphysics and philosophy. (shrink)
Joshua Gert presents an original account of color properties, and of our perception of them. He employs a general philosophical strategy - neo-pragmatism - which challenges an assumption made by virtually all other theories of color: he argues that colors are primitive properties of objects, irreducible to physical or dispositional properties.
There are several important arguments in metaethics that rely on explanatory considerations. Gilbert Harman has presented a challenge to the existence of moral facts that depends on the claim that the best explanation of our moral beliefs does not involve moral facts. The Reliability Challenge against moral realism depends on the claim that moral realism is incompatible with there being a satisfying explanation of our reliability about moral truths. The purpose of this chapter is to examine these and related arguments. (...) In particular, this chapter will discuss four kinds of arguments – Harman’s Challenge, evolutionary debunking arguments, irrelevant influence arguments, and the Reliability Challenge – understood as arguments against moral realism. The main goals of this chapter are (i) to articulate the strongest version of these arguments; (ii) to present and assess the central epistemological principles underlying these arguments; and (iii) to determine what a realist would have to do to adequately respond to these arguments. (shrink)
Our interest in this paper is to drive a wedge of contention between two different programs that fall under the umbrella of “experimental philosophy”. In particular, we argue that experimental philosophy’s “negative program” presents almost as significant a challenge to its “positive program” as it does to more traditional analytic philosophy.
Thisarticle aims to provide an explication of the doctrine of the Incarnation. A ‘Transformational Model’of the doctrine is formulated within the metaphysicaland ontologicalframework of Jonathan Lowe (i.e. hisNon-Cartesian Substance Dualismand Four-Category Ontology). Formulating this modelwithinthisspecificframework will enable the doctrine of the Incarnationto be explicated in a clear and consistent manner, and the oft-raised objections against it can be answered.
Recent empirical research seems to show that emotions play a substantial role in moral judgment. Perhaps the most important line of support for this claim focuses on disgust. A number of philosophers and scientists argue that there is adequate evidence showing that disgust significantly influences various moral judgments. And this has been used to support or undermine a range of philosophical theories, such as sentimentalism and deontology. I argue that the existing evidence does not support such arguments. At best it (...) suggests something rather different: that moral judgment can have a minor emotive function, in addition to a substantially descriptive one. (shrink)
In defending his interest-relative account of knowledge in Knowledge and Practical Interests (2005), Jason Stanley relies heavily on intuitions about several bank cases. We experimentally test the empirical claims that Stanley seems to make concerning our common-sense intuitions about these bank cases. Additionally, we test the empirical claims that Jonathan Schaffer seems to make in his critique of Stanley. We argue that our data impugn what both Stanley and Schaffer claim our intuitions about such cases are. To account for these (...) results, one must develop a better conception of the connection between a subject's interests and her body of knowledge than those offered by Stanley and Schaffer. (shrink)
We think of logic as objective. We also think that we are reliable about logic. These views jointly generate a puzzle: How is it that we are reliable about logic? How is it that our logical beliefs match an objective domain of logical fact? This is an instance of a more general challenge to explain our reliability about a priori domains. In this paper, I argue that the nature of this challenge has not been properly understood. I explicate the challenge (...) both in general and for the particular case of logic. I also argue that two seemingly attractive responses – appealing to a faculty of rational insight or to the nature of concept possession – are incapable of answering the challenge. (shrink)
Moral, social, political, and other “nonepistemic” values can lead to bias in science, from prioritizing certain topics over others to the rationalization of questionable research practices. Such values might seem particularly common or powerful in the social sciences, given their subject matter. However, I argue first that the well-documented phenomenon of motivated reasoning provides a useful framework for understanding when values guide scientific inquiry (in pernicious or productive ways). Second, this analysis reveals a parity thesis: values influence the social and (...) natural sciences about equally, particularly because both are so prominently affected by desires for social credit and status, including recognition and career advancement. Ultimately, bias in natural and social science is both natural and social— that is, a part of human nature and considerably motivated by a concern for social status (and its maintenance). Whether the pervasive influence of values is inimical to the sciences is a separate question. (shrink)
We are reliable about logic in the sense that we by-and-large believe logical truths and disbelieve logical falsehoods. Given that logic is an objective subject matter, it is difficult to provide a satisfying explanation of our reliability. This generates a significant epistemological challenge, analogous to the well-known Benacerraf-Field problem for mathematical Platonism. One initially plausible way to answer the challenge is to appeal to evolution by natural selection. The central idea is that being able to correctly deductively reason conferred a (...) heritable survival advantage upon our ancestors. However, there are several arguments that purport to show that evolutionary accounts cannot even in principle explain how it is that we are reliable about logic. In this paper, I address these arguments. I show that there is no general reason to think that evolutionary accounts are incapable of explaining our reliability about logic. (shrink)
It seems obvious that phenomenally conscious experience is something of great value, and that this value maps onto a range of important ethical issues. For example, claims about the value of life for those in a permanent vegetative state, debates about treatment and study of disorders of consciousness, controversies about end-of-life care for those with advanced dementia, and arguments about the moral status of embryos, fetuses, and non-human animals arguably turn on the moral significance of various facts about consciousness. However, (...) though work has been done on the moral significance of elements of consciousness, such as pain and pleasure, little explicit attention has been devoted to the ethical significance of consciousness. In this book Joshua Shepherd presents a systematic account of the value present within conscious experience. This account emphasizes not only the nature of consciousness, but the importance of items within experience such as affect, valence, and the complex overall shape of particular valuable experiences. Shepherd also relates this account to difficult cases involving non-humans and those with disorders of consciousness, arguing that the value of consciousness influences and partially explains the degree of moral status a being possesses, without fully determining it. The upshot is a deeper understanding of both the moral importance of phenomenal consciousness and its relations to moral status. This book will be of great interest to philosophers and students of ethics, bioethics, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of mind and cognitive science. (shrink)
At least since the middle of the twentieth century, philosophers have tended to identify weakness of will with akrasia—i.e. acting, or having a disposition to act, contrary to one‘s judgments about what is best for one to do. However, there has been some recent debate about whether this captures the ordinary notion of weakness of will. Richard Holton (1999, 2009) claims that it doesn’t, while Alfred Mele (2010) argues that, to a certain extent, it does. As Mele recognizes, the question (...) about an ordinary concept here is one apt for empirical investigation. We evaluate Mele’s studies and report some experiments of our own in order to investigate what in the world the ordinary concept of weakness of will is. We conclude that neither Mele nor Holton (previously) was quite right and offer a tentative proposal of our own: the ordinary notion is more like a prototype or cluster concept whose application is affected by a variety of factors. (shrink)
There are many domains about which we think we are reliable. When there is prima facie reason to believe that there is no satisfying explanation of our reliability about a domain given our background views about the world, this generates a challenge to our reliability about the domain or to our background views. This is what is often called the reliability challenge for the domain. In previous work, I discussed the reliability challenges for logic and for deductive inference. I argued (...) for four main claims: First, there are reliability challenges for logic and for deduction. Second, these reliability challenges cannot be answered merely by providing an explanation of how it is that we have the logical beliefs and employ the deductive rules that we do. Third, we can explain our reliability about logic by appealing to our reliability about deduction. Fourth, there is a good prospect for providing an evolutionary explanation of the reliability of our deductive reasoning. In recent years, a number of arguments have appeared in the literature that can be applied against one or more of these four theses. In this paper, I respond to some of these arguments. In particular, I discuss arguments by Paul Horwich, Jack Woods, Dan Baras, Justin Clarke-Doane, and Hartry Field. (shrink)
Since the publication of Timothy Williamson’s Knowledge and its Limits, knowledge-first epistemology has become increasingly influential within epistemology. This paper discusses the viability of the knowledge-first program. The paper has two main parts. In the first part, I briefly present knowledge-first epistemology as well as several big picture reasons for concern about this program. While this considerations are pressing, I concede, however, that they are not conclusive. To determine the viability of knowledge-first epistemology will require philosophers to carefully evaluate the (...) individual theses endorsed by knowledge-first epistemologists as well as to compare it with alternative packages of views. In the second part of the paper, I contribute to this evaluation by considering a specific thesis endorsed by many knowledge-first epistemologists – the knowledge norm of assertion. According to this norm, roughly speaking, one should assert that p only if one knows that p. I present and motivate this thesis. I then turn to a familiar concern with the norm: In many cases, it is intuitively appropriate for someone who has a strongly justified belief that p, but who doesn't know that p, to assert that p. Proponents of the knowledge norm of assertion typically explain away our judgments about such cases by arguing that the relevant assertion is improper but that the subject has an excuse and is therefore not blameworthy for making the assertion. I argue that that this response does not work. In many of the problem cases, it is not merely that the subject’s assertion is blameless. Rather, the subject positively ought to make the assertion. Appealing to an excuse cannot be used to adequately explain this fact. (Nor can we explain this fact by appealing to some other, quite different, consideration.) Finally, I conclude by briefly considering whether we should replace the knowledge norm of assertion with an alternative norm. I argue that the most plausible view is that there is no norm specifically tied to assertion. (shrink)
The correspondence theory of truth is a precise and innovative account of how the truth of a proposition depends upon that proposition's connection to a piece of reality. Joshua Rasmussen refines and defends the correspondence theory of truth, proposing new accounts of facts, propositions, and the correspondence between them. With these theories in hand, he then offers original solutions to the toughest objections facing correspondence theorists. Addressing the Problem of Funny Facts, Liar Paradoxes, and traditional epistemological questions concerning how (...) our minds can access reality, he challenges recent objections, and defends what has traditionally been the most popular theory of truth. Written with clarity, precision, and sensitivity to a range of philosophical backgrounds, his book will appeal to advanced students and scholars seeking a deeper understanding of the relationship between truth and reality. (shrink)
This chapter discusses contemporary scientific research on the role of reason and emotion in moral judgment. The literature suggests that moral judgment is influenced by both reasoning and emotion separately, but there is also emerging evidence of the interaction between the two. While there are clear implications for the rationalism-sentimentalism debate, we conclude that important questions remain open about how central emotion is to moral judgment. We also suggest ways in which moral philosophy is not only guided by empirical research (...) but continues to guide it. (shrink)
Drawing on the writings of the Jewish thinker, Abraham Joshua Heschel, I defend a partial response to the problem of divine hiddenness. A Jewish approach to divine love includes the thought that God desires meaningful relationship not only with individual persons, but also with communities of persons. In combination with John Schellenberg’s account of divine love, the admission of God’s desire for such relationships makes possible that a person may fail to believe that God exists not because of any (...) individual failing, but because the individual is a member of a larger community that itself is culpable. (shrink)
Jennifer Nagel (2010) has recently proposed a fascinating account of the decreased tendency to attribute knowledge in conversational contexts in which unrealized possibilities of error have been mentioned. Her account appeals to epistemic egocentrism, or what is sometimes called the curse of knowledge, an egocentric bias to attribute our own mental states to other people (and sometimes our own future and past selves). Our aim in this paper is to investigate the empirical merits of Nagel’s hypothesis about the psychology involved (...) in knowledge attribution. (shrink)
Shepard has argued that a universal law should govern generalization across different domains of perception and cognition, as well as across organisms from different species or even different planets. Starting with some basic assumptions about natural kinds, he derived an exponential decay function as the form of the universal generalization gradient, which accords strikingly well with a wide range of empirical data. However, his original formulation applied only to the ideal case of generalization from a single encountered stimulus to a (...) single novel stimulus, and for stimuli that can be represented as points in a continuous metric psychological space. Here we recast Shepard's theory in a more general Bayesian framework and show how this naturally extends his approach to the more realistic situation of generalizing from multiple consequential stimuli with arbitrary representational structure. Our framework also subsumes a version of Tversky's set-theoretic model of similarity, which is conventionally thought of as the primary alternative to Shepard's continuous metric space model of similarity and generalization. This unification allows us not only to draw deep parallels between the set-theoretic and spatial approaches, but also to significantly advance the explanatory power of set-theoretic models. Key Words: additive clustering; Bayesian inference; categorization; concept learning; contrast model; features; generalization; psychological space; similarity. (shrink)
Higher-order defeat occurs when one loses justification for one's beliefs as a result of receiving evidence that those beliefs resulted from a cognitive malfunction. Several philosophers have identified features of higher-order defeat that distinguish it from familiar types of defeat. If higher-order defeat has these features, they are data an account of rational belief must capture. In this article, I identify a new distinguishing feature of higher-order defeat, and I argue that on its own, and in conjunction with the other (...) distinguishing features, it favors an account of higher-order defeat grounded in non-evidential, ‘state-given reasons’ for belief. (shrink)