Intuition Talk is Not Methodologically Cheap: Empirically Testing the “Received Wisdom” About Armchair Philosophy

Erkenntnis 83 (3):595-612 (2018)
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Abstract
The “received wisdom” in contemporary analytic philosophy is that intuition talk is a fairly recent phenomenon, dating back to the 1960s. In this paper, we set out to test two interpretations of this “received wisdom.” The first is that intuition talk is just talk, without any methodological significance. The second is that intuition talk is methodologically significant; it shows that analytic philosophers appeal to intuition. We present empirical and contextual evidence, systematically mined from the JSTOR corpus and HathiTrust’s Digital Library, which provide some empirical support for the second rather than the first hypothesis. Our data also suggest that appealing to intuition is a much older philosophical methodology than the “received wisdom” alleges. We then discuss the implications of our findings for the contemporary debate over philosophical methodology.
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