Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 3, pp 781–800 | Cite as

The intuition deniers

  • Jennifer NadoEmail author


‘Intuition deniers’ are those who—like Timothy Williamson, Max Deutsch, Herman Cappelen and a few others—reject the claim that philosophers centrally rely on intuitions as evidence. This ‘Centrality’ hypothesis, as Cappelen (2012, Philosophy without intuitions. Oxford University Press, Oxford) terms it, is standardly endorsed both by traditionalists and by experimental philosophers. Yet the intuition deniers claim that Centrality is false—and they generally also suggest that this undermines the significance of experimental philosophy. Three primary types of anti-Centrality argument have cross-cut the literature thus far. These arguments, I’ll claim, have differing potential consequences on metaphilosophical debate. The first sort of argument centers on worries about the term ‘intuition’—for instance, worries about whether it has clear application, or whether anything actually falls under it. Call this the Argument from Unclear Application. The second argument type involves the claim that evidence in philosophy consists not of facts (or propositions or what have you) about intuitions, but of facts about e.g. knowledge and causation. Call this the Argument from Antipsychologism. The third type involves an attempt to demonstrate that philosophers support their claims not via bald appeal to intuition, but via argumentation. Call this the Argument from Argumentation. Although these three arguments have merit, none of them undermines the importance of experimental philosophy. Nonetheless, they do have significant consequences for the methodological debates that dominate meta-philosophy, and for experimental philosophy in particular.


Experimental philosophy Intuition Centrality Metaphilosophy 



I am grateful for comments from an anonymous reviewer for Philosophical Studies, as well as from the audience at Lingnan University’s Workshop on Methodology. The work described in this paper was fully supported by a Grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. LU 359613).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

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