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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 […]

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Two kinds of ethics?

In his 1979 A Theory of the Good and the Right Richard Brandt writes: Historically philosophers have tried to answer the traditional questions about the good and the right in basically two ways. (Sometimes the two have been combined.) The first way is to rephrase these questions in terminology sufficiently clear and precise for one […]

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Was Derrida a pseudophilosopher or just a bad philosopher? (Part II)

In Part I I asked whether it’s more accurate to call Jacques Derrida the Tommy Wiseau of philosophy or the Milli Vanilli of philosophy, and quickly outlined an argument for the latter option. Quite a different view of what’s wrong with Derrida emerges from John Searle’s 1994 paper “Literary theory and its discontents”. Searle argues […]