Two Potential Problems with Philosophical Intuitions: Muddled Intuitions and Biased Intuitions

Philosophia 41 (4):1263-1281 (2013)
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Abstract

One critique of experimental philosophy is that the intuitions of the philosophically untutored should be accorded little to no weight; instead, only the intuitions of professional philosophers should matter. In response to this critique, “experimentalists” often claim that the intuitions of professional philosophers are biased. In this paper, we explore this question of whose intuitions should be disqualified and why. Much of the literature on this issue focuses on the question of whether the intuitions of professional philosophers are reliable. In contrast, we instead focus on the idea of “muddled” intuitions—i.e. intuitions that are misdirected and about notions other than the ones under discussion. We argue that the philosophically untutored are likely to have muddled intuitions and that professional philosophers are likely to have unmuddled intuitions. Although being umuddled does not, by itself, establish the reliability of the intuitions of professional philosophers, being muddled is enough to disqualify the intuitions of the philosophically untutored. We then turn to the charge that, despite being unmuddled, professional philosophers still have biased intuitions. To evaluate this charge, we switch focus from the general notion of biased intuition to the more specific notion of theory-laden intuition. We argue that there is prima facie evidence—in the form of the presence of conflicts of intuition—for thinking that at least some of the intuitions of professional philosophers are theory-laden. In summary, we conclude that that there is no clean and easy answer to the question of whose intuitions should matter

Author Profiles

Robert Schroer
University of Minnesota, Duluth
Jeanine Weekes Schroer
University of Minnesota, Duluth

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