Is Philosophy Exceptional? A Corpus-Based, Quantitative Study

Social Epistemology 37 (5):666-683 (2023)
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Drawing on the epistemology of logic literature on anti-exceptionalism about logic, we set out to investigate the following metaphilosophical questions empirically: Is philosophy special? Are its methods (dis)continuous with science? More specifically, we test the following metaphilosophical hypotheses empirically: philosophical deductivism, philosophical inductivism, and philosophical abductivism. Using indicator words to classify arguments by type (namely, deductive, inductive, and abductive arguments), we searched through a large corpus of philosophical texts mined from the JSTOR database (N = 435,703) to find patterns of argumentation. The results of our quantitative, corpus-based study suggest that deductive arguments are significantly more common than abductive arguments and inductive arguments in philosophical texts overall, but they are gradually and steadily giving way to non-deductive (i.e. inductive and abductive) arguments in academic philosophy.

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Moti Mizrahi
Florida Institute of Technology


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