Advertisement

Synthese

, Volume 191, Issue 16, pp 3865–3896 | Cite as

Why so negative? Evidence aggregation and armchair philosophy

  • Brian TalbotEmail author
Article

Abstract

This paper aims to clarify a debate on philosophical method, and to give a probabilistic argument vindicating armchair philosophy under a wide range of plausible assumptions. The use of intuitions by so-called armchair philosophers has been criticized on empirical grounds. The debate between armchair philosophers and their empirical critics would benefit from greater clarity and precision in our understanding of what it takes for intuition-based approaches to philosophy to make sense. This paper discusses a set of rigorous, probability-based tools for determining what we can and cannot learn from intuitions in various conditions. These tools can tell us whether beliefs can be justified by armchair practices, and what empirical findings would have to show to undermine the use of intuitions in philosophy. Using these tools, the paper shows that armchair philosophy makes sense in a broad range of situations, and that it is quite plausible that we are in those situations at the moment.

Keywords

Intuitions Methodology Experimental philosophy   Evidence aggregation Bayes’ theorem Eyewitness 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I owe a great deal of thanks to Julia Staffel, Kenny Easwaran, Dom Bailey, Chris Heathwood, Eric Chwang, Tyler Hildebrand, Adam Keeney, Michael Tooley, Hanti Lin, and Christian Lee for helping me to sort out my arguments and ideas. Thank you also to Jonah Miller for his suggestions on some of the math. This paper also greatly benefitted from anonymous journal referees, whose feedback on previous versions pushed me to really work out the material in this final version.

References

  1. BonJour, L. (1998). In defense of pure reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. de Condorcet (1785). Essai sur l’application de l’analyse a la probabilite des decisions rendues a la pluraite des voix. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k417181/f4.image. Accessed 18 June 2012.
  3. Goldman, A. (2010). Philosophical naturalism and intuitional methodology. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 84(2), 115–150.Google Scholar
  4. Holder, R. D. (1998). Hume on miracles: Bayesian interpretation, multiple testimony, and the existence of god. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 49(1), 49–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Huemer, M. (2001). Skepticism and the veil of perception. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  6. Huemer, M. (2008). Revisionary intuitionism. Social Philosophy and Policy, 25(1), 368–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Huemer, M. (2011). Epistemological egoism and agent-centered norms. In T. Dougherty (Ed.), Evidentialism and its discontents (pp. 17–33). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ladha, K. K. (1992). The condorcet jury theorem, free speech, and correlated votes. American Journal of Political Science, 36(3), 617–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. L’Ecuyer, P. (2012). SSJ : A java library for a stochastic simulation. http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~simardr/ssj/indexe.html. Accessed 20 June 2012.
  10. Lewis, C. I. (1946). An analysis of knowledge and valuation. LaSalle: Open Court Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  11. Olsson, E. J. & Shogenji, T. (2004). Can we trust our memories? C.I. Lewis’s coherence argument. Synthese, 142, 21–41.Google Scholar
  12. Ross, S. M. (2007). §2.4 Expectation of a random variable. In Introduction to probability models, (9th ed.). Burlington: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Schum, D. A., & Martin, A. W. (1982). Formal and empirical research on cascaded inference in jurisprudence. Law & Society Review, 17(1), 105–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sosa, E. (1998). Minimal intuitions. In M. DePaul & W. Ramsey (Eds.), Rethinking intuitions. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefied.Google Scholar
  15. Van Cleve, J. (2011). Can coherence generate warrant ex nihilo? Probability and the logic of concurring witnesses. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 82(2), 337–380.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations