, Volume 194, Issue 4, pp 1189–1218

Ordering effects, updating effects, and the specter of global skepticism


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-015-0985-9

Cite this article as:
Horne, Z. & Livengood, J. Synthese (2017) 194: 1189. doi:10.1007/s11229-015-0985-9


One widely-endorsed argument in the experimental philosophy literature maintains that intuitive judgments are unreliable because they are influenced by the order in which thought experiments prompting those judgments are presented. Here, we explicitly state this argument from ordering effects and show that any plausible understanding of the argument leads to an untenable conclusion. First, we show that the normative principle is ambiguous. On one reading of the principle, the empirical observation is well-supported, but the normative principle is false. On the other reading, the empirical observation has only weak support, and the normative principle, if correct, would impugn the reliability of deliberative reasoning, testimony, memory, and perception, since judgments in all these areas are sensitive to ordering in the relevant sense. We then reflect on what goes wrong with the argument.


Ordering effects Updating effects Skepticism  Thought experiments Experimental philosophy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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