Brown, Jessica, and . Experimental Philosophy, Contextualism and SSI

2013, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: 86 (2): 233-261.

Abstract: I will ask the conditional question: if folk attributions of “know” are not sensitive to the stakes and/or the salience of error, does this cast doubt on contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI)? I argue that if it should turn out that folk attributions of knowledge are insensitive to such factors, then this undermines contextualism, but not SSI. That is not to say that SSI is invulnerable to empirical work of any kind. Rather, I defend the more modest claim that leading versions of SSI are not undermined by one particular kind of experimental result, namely the recent suggestion that knowledge attributions are insensitive to the stakes.

Comment: Suitable for an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology for multiple purposes. It is good as a further reading for sessions on contextualism, pragmatic encroachment, philosophical methodology, and the use of experimental philosophy in epistemological theorizing.

Dutilh Novaes, Catarina, and . Formal Languages in Logic: A Philosophical and Cognitive Analysis

2012, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Formal languages are widely regarded as being above all mathematical objects and as producing a greater level of precision and technical complexity in logical investigations because of this. Yet defining formal languages exclusively in this way offers only a partial and limited explanation of the impact which their use (and the uses of formalisms more generally elsewhere) actually has. In this book, Catarina Dutilh Novaes adopts a much wider conception of formal languages so as to investigate more broadly what exactly is going on when theorists put these tools to use. She looks at the history and philosophy of formal languages and focuses on the cognitive impact of formal languages on human reasoning, drawing on their historical development, psychology, cognitive science and philosophy. Her wide-ranging study will be valuable for both students and researchers in philosophy, logic, psychology and cognitive and computer science.

Comment: This book addresses important questions about formal languages: why formalization works and the limitations of formalization. The questions are answered from cognitive, historical and logical points of view. It is a good introductory material for teaching on formal language and psychology of reasoning.

Franklin, L. R., and . Exploratory Experiments

2005, Philosophy of Science 72(5): 888-899.

Abstract: Philosophers of experiment have acknowledged that experiments are often more than mere hypothesis-tests, once thought to be an experiment’s exclusive calling. Drawing on examples from contemporary biology, I make an additional amendment to our understanding of experiment by examining the way that `wide’ instrumentation can, for reasons of efficiency, lead scientists away from traditional hypothesis-directed methods of experimentation and towards exploratory methods.

Comment: Good exploration of the role of experiments, challenging the idea that they are solely useful for testing clearly defined hypotheses. Uses many practical examples, but is very concise and clear. Suitable for undergraduate teaching in an examination of scientific methods in a philosophy of science course.

Gendler, Tamar Szabó, and . Philosophical thought experiments, intuitions, and cognitive equilibrium

2007, French, Peter A. & Wettstein, Howard K. (eds). Philosophy and Empirical. Oxford: Blackwell. 68-89.

Summary: Drawing on literature from the dual-processing tradition in psychology, this paper tries to explain why contemplation of an imaginary particular may have cognitive and motivational effects that differ from those evoked by an abstract description of the same content, and hence, why thought experiments may be effective devices for conceptual reconfiguration. It suggests that by presenting content in a suitably concrete way, thought experiments recruit representational schemas that were otherwise inactive, thereby evoking responses that may run counter to those evoked by alternative presentations of relevantly similar content.

Comment: In this interesting paper, Gendler elucidates the role and nature of intuition in the light of current philosophical practice. It is a good material for teaching on philosophical intuitions and experimental philosophy.

Ismael, Jenann, and . Causation, Free Will, and Naturalism

2013, In Don Ross, James Ladyman, and Harold Kincaid (eds.), Scientific Metaphysics, (2013) OUP.

This chapter addresses the worry that the existence of causal antecedents to your choices means that you are causally compelled to act as you do. It begins with the folk notion of cause, leads the reader through recent developments in the scientific understanding of causal concepts, and argues that those developments undermine the threat from causal antecedents. The discussion is then used as a model for a kind of naturalistic metaphysics that takes its lead from science, letting everyday concepts be shaped and transformed by scientific developments.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics (either in sections on causation or free will), philosophy of science, or naturalism. The paper is quite long, but it is clearly written and not too technical. It provides a nice overview of the folk notion of causation, and how this may be amended in the light of scientific developments. It also serves as a good example of peculiarly naturalistic metaphyisics more generally.

Masuda, Takahiko, and others. Culture and aesthetic preference: comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans

2008, Personality and social psychology bulletin 34(9): 1260-1275.

Abstract: Prior research indicates that East Asians are more sen- sitive to contextual information than Westerners. This article explored aesthetics to examine whether cultural variations were observable in art and photography. Study 1 analyzed traditional artistic styles using archival data in representative museums. Study 2 investigated how contemporary East Asians and Westerners draw landscape pictures and take portrait photographs. Study 3 further investigated aesthetic preferences for portrait photographs. The results suggest that (a) traditional East Asian art has predominantly context-inclusive styles, whereas Western art has predominantly object- focused styles, and (b) contemporary members of East Asian and Western cultures maintain these culturally shaped aesthetic orientations. The findings can be explained by the relation among attention, cultural resources, and aesthetic preference.

Comment: This text is an excellent example of experimental aesthetics and psychology of art: it presents evidence that what seems natural or aesthetically pleasing can differ across cultures. This makes it useful in classes focusing on non-Western art or on the universality vs. relativity of taste. Since the text is focused on the psychology, it will likely be best used as a background reading alongside more philosophical works.

Misak, Cheryl, and . The American Pragmatists (The Oxford History of Philosophy)

2013, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Note: Cheryl Misak presents a history of the great American philosophical tradition of pragmatism, from its inception in the Metaphysical Club of the 1870s to the present day. She identifies two dominant lines of thought in the tradition: the first begins with Charles S. Peirce and Chauncey Wright and continues through to Lewis, Quine, and Sellars; the other begins with William James and continues through to Dewey and Rorty. This ambitious new account identifies the connections between traditional American pragmatism and twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy, and links pragmatism to major positions in the recent history of philosophy, such as logical empiricism. Misak argues that the most defensible version of pragmatism must be seen and recovered as an important part of the analytic tradition.

Comment: A good primary reading for courses on pragmatism or the history of American philosophy. Useful for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Nado, Jennifer, and . Philosophical expertise and scientific expertise

2015, Philosophical Psychology 28(7):1026-1044.

Abstract: The “expertise defense” is the claim that philosophers have special expertise that allows them to resist the biases suggested by the findings of experimental philosophers. Typically, this defense is backed up by an analogy with expertise in science or other academic fields. Recently, however, studies have begun to suggest that philosophers’ intuitions may be just as subject to inappropriate variation as those of the folk. Should we conclude that the expertise defense has been debunked? In this paper, the author argues that the analogy with science still motivates a default assumption of philosophical expertise; however, the expertise so motivated is not expertise in intuition, and its existence would not suffice to answer the experimentalist challenge. She suggests that there are deep parallels between the current methodological crisis in philosophy and the decline of introspection-based methods in psychology in the early twentieth century. The comparison can give us insight into the possible future evolution of philosophical methodology.

Comment: This paper offers a thought provoking introduction to issues related to philosophical intuitions, experimental philosophy, and philosophical methodology in general. It is not an easy read, but can serve for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Nagel, Jennifer, and . Intuitions and Experiments: A Defense of the Case Method in Epistemology

2012, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3): 495-527.

Abstract: Many epistemologists use intuitive responses to particular cases as evidence for their theories. Recently, experimental philosophers have challenged the evidential value of intuitions, suggesting that our responses to particular cases are unstable, inconsistent with the responses of the untrained, and swayed by factors such as ethnicity and gender. This paper presents evidence that neither gender nor ethnicity influence epistemic intuitions, and that the standard responses to Gettier cases and the like are widely shared. It argues that epistemic intuitions are produced by the natural ‘mindreading’ capacity that underpins ordinary attributions of belief and knowledge in everyday social interaction. Although this capacity is fallible, its weaknesses are similar to the weaknesses of natural capacities such as sensory perception. Experimentalists who do not wish to be skeptical about ordinary empirical methods have no good reason to be skeptical about epistemic intuitions.

Comment: Nagel is one of the prominent epistemologists who bring relevant psychological researches to philosophical debates. In this excellent paper, Nagel discusses the legitimacy of using pre-theoretical epistemic intuitions in epistemological theorizing in the light of findings in cognitive science. It is very useful for teachings on experimental philosophy in courses on epistemology or methodology of philosophy. It can be used together with Stephen (2013)'s response "Do different groups have different epistemic intuitions? a reply to Jennifer Nagel".

Roskies, Adina L., and . Neuroscientific challenges to free will and responsibility

2006, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10(9): 419-423.

Abstract: Recent developments in neuroscience raise the worry that understanding how brains cause behavior will undermine our views about free will and, consequently, about moral responsibility. The potential ethical consequences of such a result are sweeping. I provide three reasons to think that these worries seemingly inspired by neuroscience are misplaced. First, problems for common-sense notions of freedom exist independently of neuroscientific advances. Second, neuroscience is not in a position to undermine our intuitive notions. Third, recent empirical studies suggest that even if people do misconstrue neuroscientific results as relevant to our notion of freedom, our judgments of moral responsibility will remain largely unaffected. These considerations suggest that neuroethical concerns about challenges to our conception of freedom are misguided.

Comment: Roskies offers an overview of the debate, providing useful glossary of positions related to it together with a graph representing the relations between them. This can be particularly useful when explaining the differences between the metaphysical, epistemic and ethical claims made in this debate.