Philosophy and Philosophy: The Subject Matter and the Discipline

Dissertation, University of St. Andrews (2021)
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Abstract

The last two decades have seen the proliferation of the empirical study of philosophy. This dissertation defends the practice and argues that to understand the way contingent features of the practice of philosophy affect the epistemic standing of philosophers, we need to draw upon a wider and more varied set of empirical data than is sometimes supposed. To explore this, the dissertation focuses on two places where the practices of the discipline of philosophy have an effect on the epistemology of philosophy. First, the dissertation discusses the interaction between notable works of philosophy and their readers. In particular, it critiques the method of defending the epistemic standing of philosophers through careful examination of notable works of philosophy to discern the methods in the text. Ultimately this method is epistemically unmotivated. It is instead far more important to study how people have interacted and reacted to works of philosophy. Second, the dissertation defends the use of lexicography in philosophy. Using "intuition" as a case study, the dissertation argues metasemantically and lexicographically that philosophers often use common words with meanings unique to philosophy. Through both discussions it is argued that experimental philosophers and epistemologists of philosophy need to drastically expand the sorts of data they collect and consider in their theorizing. ​

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