Philosophical Methodology and its Implications for Experimental Philosophy
Keil, Benjamin Allan
University of Kansas
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Since most philosophers accord some role to intuitions in the practice of philosophy, my dissertation’s first paper addresses an important subsidiary question: Whose intuitions should be allowed to play a role in proper philosophical practice? My paper critiques Steven Hales’ view when he argues that the intuitions of philosophical laymen lack philosophical significance. I rebut the main arguments he gives in support of the “expertise defense” and then provide an Aristotelian-style argument in favor of the significance of lay philosophical intuitions. My second paper extends John Norton’s work into the realm of experimental philosophy. Norton argues that scientific thought experiments are arguments; I develop his work and show that his position entails that philosophical thought experiments are also arguments. I consider Thomson’s “Trolley Problem” and demonstrate that it contains an implicit argument, even if the argument’s conclusion is often omitted when presented in a classroom setting. Since my position entails that philosophical thought experiments are non-neutral devices for eliciting intuitions, I suggest two key implications for practitioners of experimental philosophy. Conflicting ethical intuitions are nothing new to philosophers, but a new way of resolving some of those intuitional conflicts is my third paper’s topic. AJ Ayer famously argues that unless some criterion for deciding between conflicting intuitions exists, appeals to intuition are worthless. I partially answer Ayer’s challenge by drawing on Steven Hales’ defense of foundationalism. Hales argues that at least one self-justifying proposition exists. If true, and if one self-justifying ethical proposition exists, I argue that this provides us a partial way towards answering Ayer’s challenge. Since self-justifying propositions must be justified a priori, where a conflict exists between an ethical intuition ultimately justified a priori and another ethical intuition ultimately justified a posteriori, the latter intuition should be rejected.
- Dissertations 
- Philosophy Dissertations and Theses 
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