, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 469–475 | Cite as

Must philosophy be constrained?

Edouard Machery: Philosophy within its proper bounds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, 217pp, £40.00HB
  • Anna DrożdżowiczEmail author
  • Pierre Saint-Germier
  • Samuel Schindler
Review Essay

In Philosophy within its proper bounds, Edouard Machery argues that many traditional and contemporary philosophical issues are beyond our epistemic reach. Such issues typically require modal knowledge of what is necessary and possible. However, according to Machery the main philosophical method for identifying modal facts, the method of cases, is ill-suited for providing such knowledge. Philosophers commonly appeal to judgements made in imaginary, philosophical cases, such as the Gettier case or the trolley case. Machery criticizes the method of cases by drawing on extensive research done by experimental philosophers, purportedly showing that judgements elicited by philosophical cases are unreliable and should not be trusted. Furthermore, Machery argues that since many philosophers do not react appropriately to studies that show the diversity of such judgements across groups, the method of cases is more likely to enshrine our prejudices than to uncover modal facts of philosophical...



We would like to thank Karen Kiil Brøcker for helpful discussions on the book, as well as Edouard Machery for comments on the earlier version of this review. This work was supported by and developed as part of the Sapere Aude Project Intuitions in Science and Philosophy funded by Danish Council for Independent Research (Grant Number DFF 4180-00071).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Drożdżowicz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pierre Saint-Germier
    • 1
  • Samuel Schindler
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Science Studies, Department of MathematicsAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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