Traditional representations of philosophy have tended to prize the role of reason in the discipline. These accounts focus exclusively on ideas and arguments as animating forces in the field. But anecdotal evidence and more rigorous sociological studies suggest there is more going on in philosophy. In this article, we present two hypotheses about social factors in the field: that social factors influence the development of philosophy, and that status and reputation—and thus social influence—will tend to be awarded to philosophers who offer rationally compelling arguments for their views. In order to test these hypotheses, we need a more comprehensive grasp on the field than traditional representations afford. In particular, we need more substantial data about various social connections between philosophers. This investigation belongs to a naturalized metaphilosophy, an empirical study of the discipline itself, and it offers prospects for a fuller and more reliable understanding of philosophy.
KeywordsPhilosophy Sociology Networks Reason Naturalism
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