The Myth of the Intuitive: Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Method (MIT Press)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In The Myth of the Intuitive, Max Deutsch defends the methods of analytic philosophy against a recent empirical challenge mounted by the practitioners of experimental philosophy ( xphi). This challenge concerns the extent to which analytic philosophy relies on intuition -- in particular, the extent to which analytic philosophers treat intuitions as evidence in arguing for philosophical conclusions. Experimental philosophers say that analytic philosophers place a great deal of evidential weight on people's intuitions about hypothetical cases and thought experiments. Deutsch argues forcefully that this view of traditional philosophical method is a myth, part of "metaphilosophical folklore," and he supports his argument with close examinations of results from xphi and of a number of influential arguments in analytic philosophy.
Analytic philosophy makes regular use of hypothetical examples and thought experiments, but, Deutsch writes, philosophers argue for their claims about what is true or not true in these examples and thought experiments. It is these arguments, not intuitions, that are treated as evidence for the claims.
Deutsch discusses xphi and some recent xphi studies; critiques a variety of other metaphilosophical claims; examines such famous arguments as Gettier's refutation of the JTB (justified true belief) theory and Kripke's Gödel Case argument against descriptivism about proper names, and shows that they rely on reasoning rather than intuition; and finds existing critiques of xphi, the "Multiple Concepts" and "Expertise" replies, to be severely lacking.
intuitions. So neither Gettier nor Kripke explicitly appeals to intuitions. What do they do instead? Gettier, on the question of whether his protagonist, Smith, knows (e) that the man who will get the job has ten coins in his pocket, says that, although it is clear that Smith justifiably and truly believes (e), “it is equally clear that Smith does not know that (e) is true” (Gettier 1963, 122; emphasis in original). He does not say that it is intuitive that Smith does not know; he says straight
arguments are (and are treated as) the evidence for such judgments. In chapters 4 and 5 I will demonstrate this by presenting many clear examples of philosophers arguing that their counterexamples are genuine. However, the view that it is arguments, not intuitions, that serve as the evidence for the genuineness of philosophical counterexamples raises the following question: what is the evidence for the premises of these arguments? Before turning to Williamson in section 3.3, I briefly, in section
serves to justify them, is a difficult and contentious philosophical issue. But what is more important, given my purposes, is that the issue is very general, in the following sense: It is clear that the problem of understanding philosophical justification—How should the “regress” of philosophical reasons be stopped? Must it be stopped? Must it stop with propositions that are intuitive? and so on—are problems for understanding justification generally speaking. The problem of justification in
explaining nor perhaps even knowing exactly why he feels the way he does about this case, Gettier seems convinced that his intuitions will be felt by others and by himself on other occasions. (Nagel 2012, 503) Every sentence in this passage is either mistaken, misleading, or lacking entirely in textual support. Nagel’s claim at the end of the passage about Gettier’s state of mind— that he “seems convinced that his intuitions will be felt by others and by himself on other occasions”—finds no
distinction, along with how the two modes of cognition play a role in shaping not just our moral outlook but our philosophical outlook more generally, is bound to have all sorts of broadly ethical implications. I encourage xphiles to unearth them—using surveys, but also whatever other empirical methods are required. An xphi unfettered by the myth of the intuitive has an important place in philosophy and can make a significant contribution, but it is a mistake to think that this place and