Intuitive expertise and intuitions about knowledge
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- Horvath, J. & Wiegmann, A. Philos Stud (2016) 173: 2701. doi:10.1007/s11098-016-0627-1
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Experimental restrictionists have challenged philosophers’ reliance on intuitions about thought experiment cases based on experimental findings. According to the expertise defense, only the intuitions of philosophical experts count—yet the bulk of experimental philosophy consists in studies with lay people. In this paper, we argue that direct (experimental) strategies for assessing the expertise defense are preferable to indirect (inductive) strategies. A direct argument in support of the expertise defense would have to show: first, that there is a significant difference between expert and lay intuitions; second, that expert intuitions are superior to lay intuitions; and third, that expert intuitions accord with the relevant philosophical consensus. At present, there is only little experimental evidence that bears on these issues. To advance the debate, we conducted two new experiments on intuitions about knowledge with experts and lay people. Our results suggest that the intuitions of epistemological experts are superior in some respects, but they also pose an unexpected challenge to the expertise defense. Most strikingly, we found that even epistemological experts tend to ascribe knowledge in fake-barn-style cases. This suggests that philosophy, as a discipline, might fail to adequately map the intuitions of its expert practitioners onto a disciplinary consensus.