Intuitive Evidence and Experimental Philosophy

In Jennifer Nado (ed.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Methodology. Bloomsbury. pp. 155–73 (2016)
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In recent years, some defenders of traditional philosophical methodology have argued that certain critiques of armchair methods are mistaken in assuming that intuitions play central evidential roles in traditional philosophical methods. According to this kind of response, experimental philosophers attack a straw man; it doesn’t matter whether intuitions are reliable, because philosophers don’t use intuitions in the way assumed. Deutsch (2010), Williamson (2007), and Cappelen (2012) all defend traditional methods in something like this way. I also endorsed something like this line in Ichikawa (2014a). In this contribution, I will follow up on this sort of defence of traditional philosophical methods in three ways. In §1, I will rehearse and extend some of my reasons for challenging the idea that traditional methods depend on intuitions in an evidential role. (My reasons are very different from those discussed in (Cappelen, 2012).) I will also engage with some recent more sophisticated attempts to establish the idea that intuitions play evidential roles in philosophy, such as that of Chudnoff (2013). In §2, I will consider and argue against a dismissive response to such positions from experimental philosophers, who consider the question of philosophical reliance on intuitions to be irrelevant to the experimentalist critique. But in §3, I will argue that it would also be a mistake to conclude (as Herman Cappelen does) that the critique is rendered totally irrelevant by the denial of the evidential role of intuitions; I defend a more moderate view on which the bearing of experimental studies of philosophical intuitions is relevant for philosophical methodology, but only in a relatively limited way.

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Jonathan Ichikawa
University of British Columbia


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