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Philosophical Intuitions and Demographic Differences

Philosophers are disagreeing over what lessons should be learned from the growing body of work on the interplay between demographics and philosophical intuitions. In a recent article in Epistemology & Philosophy of Science, Joshua Knobe (Yale) argues that philosophical intuitions are “robust across demographic differences”: Work in experimental philosophy is often concerned with intuitions about seemingly abstruse issues, such as the nature of the true self or whether the universe is governed by deterministic laws. There was every reason to expect that such intuitions would differ radically between demographic groups. Yet actual research on the topic has yielded a surprising result. Again and again, studies find that effects observed within one demographic group can also be found in a variety of others. He acknowledges that some differences of philosophical intuitions have been shown across different demographic groups, but then goes over some of the studies to show “the shocking degree to which demographic factors do not impact people’s philosophical intuitions.” Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh) and Stephen Stich (Rutgers), who are co-principal investigators (with H. Clark Barrett of UCLA) of the Geography of Philosophy Project, have written a reply to Professor Knobe. They argue, among other things, that his conclusion is based on a selective sample of the existing literature, and that a look at more studies shows that the main lesson of them [More]

New Site for Experimental Philosophical Bioethics

BioXphi aims to be an online hub for experimental philosophical bioethics. What is experimental philosophical bioethics? It’s an emerging field that will use traditional research methods of experimental philosophy and the empirical social and psychological sciences to investigate key premises in the arguments of various positions in theoretical bioethics. Though bioethicists have occasionally drawn on empirical data to supplement arguments and normative bioethical analysis, bioXphi by contrast seeks to uniquely probe the intuitions of patients and possible stakeholders in order to extrapolate—and make explicit wherever possible—the underlying cognitive and psychological processes that inform their responses. In this way, a major purpose of bioXphi is to make bioethical theorizing increasingly responsive to empirical insights in the formulation of clinical practice, institutional policy, and ongoing theoretical debate. As an interdisciplinary line of research, bioXphi can be thought of as advancing at least two types of inquiry: descriptive questions about the psychology and mechanism of bioethical decision-making, and prescriptive questions that constitute the core of bioethics. The site, developed by Brian Earp (Yale, Oxford), contains a bibliography of work in and related to experimental philosophical bioethics, information about an upcoming conference, and a blog. The post New Site for Experimental Philosophical Bioethics appeared first on Daily [More]

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