Experimental Philosophy

English: A visual representation of A.D. de Gr...

English: A visual representation of A.D. de Groot’s empirical cycle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Experimental philosophy is a new movement that uses systematic experimental studies to shed light on philosophical issues. In other words, experimental philosophers apply the methods commonly associated with psychology (experimentation, statistical analysis, developmental research, reaction time studies, patient studies, and so on), but they use those methods to address the kinds of questions that have been traditionally associated with philosophy. The experimental philosophy movement is united more by a shared methodology than by a shared research agenda or metaphilosophical viewpoint. Thus, while work in experimental philosophy makes use of systematic empirical study, this methodology has been applied to a wide array of different philosophical questions, and researchers have offered quite different views about the way in which such experimental work can prove philosophically valuable. So perhaps the best way to become acquainted with the field of experimental philosophy is to look in detail at the actual research findings.

Key work in experimental philosophy has been done in virtually all areas of philosophy including philosophy of language (Turri 2013, Machery et al 2004), mind (Sytsma & Machery 2010), metaphysics (Alicke et al 2011), intentionality (Knobe 2010, Young et al 2006), free will and moral responsibility (Nichols & Knobe 2007, Nichols 2011), metaethics (Sarkissian et al 2011, Sarkissian et al 2010), and epistemology (Weinberg et al 2001, Beebe & Buckwalter 2010, Starmans & Friedman 2012).

Current Controversies in Experimental PhilosophyReview – Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy
by Edouard Machery (Editor)
Routledge, 2014
Review by Christophe Al-Saleh
Jul 21st 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 30)

 

3 thoughts on “Experimental Philosophy

  1. 2015 Buffalo Annual Experimental Philosophy Conference

    The program for the Buffalo Annual Experimental Philosophy Conference is pasted below. A pdf version can be downloaded here. The conference will be held Fri., Sept. 11, and Sat., Sept. 12, at the Embassy Suites Buffalo. The keynote Address will be given by Thomas Nadelhoffer (College of Charleston). Inquiries should be sent to Bob Kelly at rkelly2@buffalo.edu.

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  2. Does the question “But is it philosophy?” really matter if a field related to philosophy is innovative? Looking at the contribution made to topics such as the Gettier cases or debunking cultural bias, experimental philosophy does seem to add to our understanding.

    The programme posted by sob1989 looks very interesting, with a very wide range of topics. Definitely an interesting mashup of methods and I wish it were closer! It’d be interesting to see where the field ends up in a few years’ time, say, if it hones in on a common baseline of topics best suited to this methodology, with other areas falling away.

    (And experimental philosophy is not a field without its own bias, cf. how it sometimes distinguishes itself from ‘armchair philosophy.’ Ouch …)

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