Synthese

, Volume 192, Issue 2, pp 431–452 | Cite as

How not to test for philosophical expertise

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Expertise defense Methodology Moral intuition  Philosophical intuition 

References

  1. Alexander, J. (2012). Experimental philosophy: An introduction (1st ed.). Oxford: Polity .Google Scholar
  2. Arvan, M. (2013). Bad news for conservatives? Moral judgments and the dark triad personality traits: A correlational study. Neuroethics, 6(2), 307–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Audi, R. (2008). Intuition, inference, and rational disagreement in ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 11(5), 475–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bealer, G. (2000). A theory of the a priori. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 81(1), 1–8211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bem, D. J. (2011). Feeling the future: Experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 407–425. doi:10.1037/a0021524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bengson, J. (2013). Experimental attacks on intuitions and answers. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 86(3), 495–532. doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2012.00578.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 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
  8. Bourget, D., & Chalmers, D. J. (2013). What do philosophers believe? Philosophical Studies, 3, 1.Google Scholar
  9. Cappelen, H. (2012). Philosophy without intuitions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cullen, S. (2010). Survey-driven romanticism. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 1(2), 275–496. doi:10.1007/s13164-009-0016-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Driver, J. (2006). Ethics: The fundamentals (1st ed.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Fischer, J. M., & Ravizza, M. (1992). Ethics: Problems and principles (1st ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  13. Foot, P. (1967). The problem of abortion and the doctrine of double effect. Oxford Review, 5, 5–15.Google Scholar
  14. Gensler, H. J. (2011). Ethics: A contemporary introduction. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  15. Grundmann, T. (2010). Some hope for intuitions: A reply to Weinberg. Philosophical Psychology, 23(4), 481–509. doi:10.1080/09515089.2010.505958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Horvath, J. (2010). How (not) to react to experimental philosophy. Philosophical Psychology, 23(4), 447–480. doi:10.1080/09515089.2010.505878.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 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
  18. Kagan, S. (1997). Normative ethics. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kahane, G., & Shackel, N. (2010). Methodological issues in the neuroscience of moral judgement. Mind & Language, 25(5), 561–582. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0017.2010.01401.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kamm, F. M. (2000). The doctrine of triple effect and why a rational agent need not intend the means to his end. Aristotelian Society Supplementary, 74(1), 21–8211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kauppinen, A. (2007). The rise and fall of experimental philosophy. Philosophical Explorations, 10(2), 95–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 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
  23. Lanteri, A., Chelini, C., & Rizzello, S. (2008). An experimental investigation of emotions and reasoning in the trolley problem. Journal of Business Ethics, 83(4), 789–804. doi:10.1007/s10551-008-9665-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. LeBel, E. P., & Peters, K. R. (2011). Fearing the future of empirical psychology: Bem’s (2011) evidence of Psi as a case study of deficiencies in modal research practice. Review of General Psychology, 15(4), 371–379. doi:10.1037/a0025172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liao, S. M. (2009). The loop case and Kamm’s doctrine of triple effect. Philosophical Studies, 146(2), 223–231. doi:10.1007/s11098-008-9252-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 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
  27. Lombrozo, T. (2009). The role of moral commitments in moral judgment. Cognitive Science, 33(2), 273–286. doi:10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01013.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ludwig, K. (2007). The epistemology of thought experiments: First person versus third person approaches. Midwest Studies In Philosophy, 31(1), 128–159. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4975.2007.00160.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Machery, E., Mallon, R., Nichols, S., & Stich, S. P. (2004). Semantics, cross-cultural style. Cognition, 92(3), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nadelhoffer, T., & Feltz, A. (2008). The actor-observer bias and moral intuitions: Adding fuel to Sinnott-Armstrong’s fire. Neuroethics, 1(2), 133–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nado, J. (2012). Why intuition? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2012.00644.x.
  32. Nagel, T. (1979). Mortal questions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Petrinovich, L., & O’Neill, P. (1996). Influence of wording and framing effects on moral intuitions. Ethology & Sociobiology, 17(3), 145–171. doi:10.1016/0162-3095(96)00041-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Quinn, W. S. (1989). Actions, intentions, and consequences: The doctrine of double effect. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 18(4), 334–351.Google Scholar
  35. Rawls, J. (1951). Outline of a decision procedure for ethics. The Philosophical Review, 60(2), 177–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Rini, R. A. (2014). Analogies, moral intuitions, and the expertise defence. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 5(2), 169–181. doi:10.1007/s13164-013-0163-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ryberg, J. (2013). Moral intuitions and the expertise defence. Analysis, 73(2), 3–9. doi:10.1093/analys/ans135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schulz, E., Cokely, E. T., & Feltz, A. (2011). Persistent bias in expert judgments about free will and moral responsibility: A test of the expertise defense. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1722–1731. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.04.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schwitzgebel, E. (2009). Do ethicists steal more books? Philosophical Psychology, 22(6), 711–725. doi:10.1080/09515080903409952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 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
  42. Schwitzgebel, E., Rust, J., Huang, L.-L., Moore, A. T., & Coates, J. (2012). Ethicists’ courtesy at philosophy conferences. Philosophical Psychology, 25(3), 331–340. doi:10.1080/09515089.2011.580524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shafer-Landau, R. (2009). The fundamentals of ethics. USA: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Singer, P. (1972). Moral experts. Analysis, 32(4), 115–117. doi:10.2307/3327906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 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
  46. Smart, J. J. C., & Williams, B. (1973). Utilitarianism: For and against. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sosa, E. (2007). Experimental philosophy and philosophical intuition. Philosophical Studies, 132(1), 99–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sosa, E. (2010). Intuitions and meaning divergence. Philosophical Psychology, 23(4), 419–426. doi:10.1080/09515089.2010.505859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Swain, S., Alexander, J., & Weinberg, J. M. (2008). The instability of philosophical intuitions: Running hot and cold on truetemp. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 76(1), 138–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Thomson, J. J. (1976). Killing, letting die, and the trolley problem. The Monist, 59(2), 204–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thomson, J. J. (2008). Turning the trolley. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 36(4), 359–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tobia, K., Buckwalter, W., & Stich, S. (2013). Moral intuitions: Are philosophers experts? Philosophical Psychology, 26(5), 629–638. doi:10.1080/09515089.2012.696327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Unger, P. (1996). Living high and letting die: Our illusion of innocence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Weinberg, J. M., & Alexander, J. (2014). The challenge of sticking with intuitions through thick and thin. In A. Booth & D. Rowbottom (Eds.), Intuitions (pp. 187–212). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Weinberg, J. M., Gonnerman, C., Buckner, C., & Alexander, J. (2010). Are philosophers expert intuiters? Philosophical Psychology, 23(3), 331–355. doi:10.1080/09515089.2010.490944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Weinberg, J. M., Nichols, S., & Stich, S. (2001). Normativity and epistemic intuitions. Philosophical Topics, 29(1–2), 429–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wiegmann, A., Okan, Y., & Nagel, J. (2012). Order effects in moral judgment. Philosophical Psychology, 25(6), 813–836. doi:10.1080/09515089.2011.631995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Williams, B. (1982). Moral luck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Williamson, T. (2004). Philosophical ‘Intuitions’ and scepticism about judgement. Dialectica, 58(1), 109–8211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Williamson, T. (2007). The philosophy of philosophy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Williamson, T. (2011). Philosophical expertise and the burden of proof. Metaphilosophy, 42(3), 215–229. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9973.2011.01685.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wright, J. C. (2010). On intuitional stability: The clear, the strong, and the paradigmatic. Cognition, 115(3), 491–503. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.02.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zamzow, J. L., & Nichols, S. (2009). Variations in ethical intuitions. Philosophical. Issues, 19(1), 368–388. doi:10.1111/j.1533-6077.2009.00164.x.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations