How not to test for philosophical expertise
- 509 Downloads
Recent empirical work appears to suggest that the moral intuitions of professional philosophers are just as vulnerable to distorting psychological factors as are those of ordinary people. This paper assesses these recent tests of the ‘expertise defense’ of philosophical intuition. I argue that the use of familiar cases and principles constitutes a methodological problem. Since these items are familiar to philosophers, but not ordinary people, the two subject groups do not confront identical cognitive tasks. Reflection on this point shows that these findings do not threaten philosophical expertise—though we can draw lessons for more effective empirical tests.
KeywordsExpertise defense Methodology Moral intuition Philosophical intuition
Thanks to Wesley Buckwalter, Eric Schwitzgebel, Kevin Tobia, Guy Kahane, Simon Rippon, and two anonymous referees for Synthese for helpful comments on drafts of this paper, and to Nora Heinzelmann, Shaun Nichols, and Steven Lukes and the NYU Sociology of Morality Working Group for discussion. This research received sponsorship from the VolkswagenStiftung’s European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences, and the Humanities (grant II/85 063).
- Alexander, J. (2012). Experimental philosophy: An introduction (1st ed.). Oxford: Polity .Google Scholar
- Bennett, C. M., Baird, A. A., Miller, M. B., & Wolford, G. L. (2010). Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon: An argument for proper multiple comparisons correction. Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results, 1(1), 1–5.Google Scholar
- Bourget, D., & Chalmers, D. J. (2013). What do philosophers believe? Philosophical Studies, 3, 1.Google Scholar
- Driver, J. (2006). Ethics: The fundamentals (1st ed.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Fischer, J. M., & Ravizza, M. (1992). Ethics: Problems and principles (1st ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
- Foot, P. (1967). The problem of abortion and the doctrine of double effect. Oxford Review, 5, 5–15.Google Scholar
- Gensler, H. J. (2011). Ethics: A contemporary introduction. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Jones, E. E., & Nisbett, R. E. (1971). The actor and the observer: Divergent perceptions of the causes of behavior. In E. E. Jones, D. E. Kanouse, H. H. Kelly, R. E. Nisbett, S. Valins, & B. Weiner (Eds.), Attribution: Perceiving the causes of behavior (pp. 79–94). Morristown: General Learning Press.Google Scholar
- Kagan, S. (1997). Normative ethics. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Kornblith, H. (1998). The role of intuition in philosophical inquiry: An account with no unnatural ingredients. In Michael R. Paul & William Ramsey (Eds.), Rethinking intuition: The psychology of intuition and its role in philosophical theory (pp. 129–141). New York: Rowham and Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Liao, S. M., Weigmann, A., Alexander, J., & Vong, G. (2011). Putting the trolley in order: Experimental philosophy and the loop case. Philosophical Psychology, 25(5), 661–671.Google Scholar
- Nado, J. (2012). Why intuition? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2012.00644.x.
- Nagel, T. (1979). Mortal questions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Quinn, W. S. (1989). Actions, intentions, and consequences: The doctrine of double effect. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 18(4), 334–351.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Schwitzgebel, E., & Cushman, F. (2012). Expertise in moral reasoning? Order effects on moral judgment in professional philosophers and non-philosophers. Mind and Language, 27(2), 135–153.Google Scholar
- Shafer-Landau, R. (2009). The fundamentals of ethics. USA: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2008). Framing moral intuition. In J. Doris (Ed.), Moral Psychology. The cognitive science of morality: Intuition and diversity (pp. 47–76). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Williams, B. (1982). Moral luck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar