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The worst argument for utilitarianism

How do we tell whether a particular moral theory is correct? What kind of test do we carry out? What kind of evidence do we appeal to? Many people seem baffled by this question. And the confusion around it is, I think, one of the reasons why some philosophers get away with really awful arguments […]

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Is neurophilosophy a thing?

According to Patricia Churchland, neurophilosophy studies “the impact of discoveries in neuroscience on a range of traditional philosophical questions about the nature of the mind”. The term has been around for more than three decades, but it doesn’t seem to have really caught on – apart from Churchland and her husband Paul, there aren’t too […]

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The overriding question

Can most philosophical questions be reduced to just one basic question? John Searle thinks so: There is exactly one overriding question in contemporary philosophy. As a preliminary formulation, we can say the question is: How do we account for our conceptions of ourselves as a certain sort of human being in a universe that we […]

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Metaphilosophy links #4

A. Callard: Publish and Perish. M. Huemer: Why Are the Great Thinkers Dead? J. Hawkins: What Exactly Is “Philosophy”? P. A. Murphy: Metaphilosophy: P.M.S Hacker vs. Timothy Williamson. F. Jongepier: On philosophical love (or why I fell in love with Iris Murdoch). E. Schwitzgebel: The 233 Most-Cited Workd in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. D. […]

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Kant, lying to a murderer, and bad philosophy

Are great philosophers bad philosophers? Michael Huemer thinks so. This is supposedly because they come up with bad arguments to support conclusions that are “absurd” and “outrageous”. In the face of conclusions like that, they should be “going back and questioning their starting points”, but they prefer to stick to their irrational reasoning. Huemer’s examples […]

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Is experimental philosophy useless? (Part III)

In Part I and II I argued that even though experimental philosophers are generally wrong to assume that philosophers treat intuitions as evidence (which makes x-phi largely pointless), sometimes they are not wrong to make this assumption, and in those isolated cases their research is not pointless. This time I want to argue that x-phi […]

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Is experimental philosophy useless? (Part II)

In Part I I outlined the basic argument for the uselessness of x-phi: x-phi makes sense only if we assume that philosophers use intuitions as evidence, however philosophers don’t use intuitions as evidence, so x-phi is useless. I said I agree with this to a large extent, but not completely, as I think on some […]

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Metaphilosophy links #3

Does philosophy belong to the academy or the community? Joe Humphreys interviews Amanda Fulford, Grace Lockrobin and Richard Smith. B. Weatherson: A History of Philosophy Journals Using Topic Modeling. S. E. Smith: Why philosophy is so important in science education. A. Gomes: The privilege of boredom. S. Dresser: Peak ellipsis. P. Adamson: The Margins of […]

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Is experimental philosophy useless? (Part I)

Some people think it is. Or actually worse than useless: Richard Marshall: X-phi in particular has spent a lot of effort examining intuitions because they thought they did play a huge role in philosophical thinking – so have they been wasting their time? Did all those armchairs perish in vain? Herman Cappelen: Yes, a complete […]

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On burning armchairs

According to its (official?) twitter account, experimental philosophy, aka x-phi, is “an interdisciplinary field that uses the collection of empirical data to shed light on philosophical issues.” In what is often cited as “the first experimental philosophy study” Jonathan Weinberg, Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich presented groups of Westerners and East Asians with some well-known […]