5

I recently heard a science podcast in which Josh Knobe was interviewed about experimental philosophy. It seemed like a pretty cool field. Is experimental philosophy considered legitimate by the philosophy community or at least a decent number of philosophers? And would reading his book on Experimental Philosophy be a good way for a more science oriented person to learn more about philosophy in general?

6
  • Could you provide a link or a summary of what "experimental philosophy" is? (I could probably use Google, but I'm too lazy today. ;-) Nov 18 '11 at 22:03
  • 1
    Experimental philosophy! :)
    – stoicfury
    Nov 18 '11 at 23:27
  • 2
    I can say I only heard this term once when I was getting my degree in philosophy, and it was from other students talking about it, not a professor. From this I might infer that I don't think academia takes this idea very seriously yet. And I can see why: "experimental philosophy" doesn't seem to be anything new—in philosophy we have always simply referred to the information it relies on as a posteriori knowledge. Using experience and scientific evidence to support philosophical theories has been happening for a long, long time now...
    – stoicfury
    Nov 18 '11 at 23:34
  • 2
    Isn't that...uh...science?
    – Mitch
    Nov 19 '11 at 2:19
  • The only time I saw a person refer to themselves as an experimental philosopher was at a talk either at CogSci2010 or AAAI-CAS2010 (I could dig through my notes to find out). There the speaker held a position in a philosophy department and was using multi-agent simulations to try to answer questions about ethics and morality. Nov 21 '11 at 21:15
5

This would take a bit more context to really appreciate which I'm not sure we'll be able to sufficiently offer here; a proper discussion might be article-length and would likely be somewhat inconclusive even then.

At any rate, while perhaps not an ultimate answer, Appiah's take on this is pretty interesting (my emphasis):

The best work in experimental philosophy would be valuable and suggestive even if it skipped the actual experiments... X-phi helps keep us honest and enforces a useful modesty about how much weight to give one’s personal hunches, even when they’re shared by the guy in the next office. But — this is my own empirical observation — although experiments can illuminate philosophical arguments, they don’t settle them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.