Intuitions and relativity

Philosophical Psychology 23 (4):427-445 (2010)
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Abstract
I address a criticism of the use of thought experiments in conceptual analysis advanced on the basis of the survey method of so-called experimental philosophy. The criticism holds that surveys show that intuitions are relative to cultures in a way that undermines the claim that intuition-based investigation yields any objective answer to philosophical questions. The crucial question is what intuitions are as philosophers have been interested in them. To answer this question we look at the role of intuitions in philosophical inquiry. When we have done this, we can see that it is impossible for intuitions properly understood to be relative in the way that has been suggested as they are conceived of as expressions of competence in the concepts deployed in their contents. The remaining methodological issues, though not to be dismissed, present no in principle objection to the method of thought experiments.
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2010-08-19

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