Philosophers Use Empiricial Data to Test Moral Theories

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Philosophers Use Empiricial Data to Test Moral Theories

Postby mtbturtle on March 28th, 2016, 6:06 pm 


Philosophers are using science and data points to test theories of morality - Olivia Goldhill
Philosophy is no longer a field conducted entirely from the comfort of an armchair. Over the past decade, this notoriously abstract discipline has developed a branch of “experimental philosophy” that conducts its own scientific studies.

Though such work continues to face resistance from conventional armchair philosophers, there’s an increasing focus on using empirical studies in conjunction with philosophical thinking: One survey found that 62% of highly cited papers from 1960-1999 used a priori (purely reason-based) methods. From 2009 to 2013, just 12% of comparably cited papers used a priori thinking alone.

The majority of these recent studies relied on existing empirical research, while a minority conducted their own original experiments.

Joshua Knobe, philosophy and cognitive science professor at Yale, was one of the first to begin conducting such experiments. He began to do so, he tells Quartz, after a philosopher responded to a paper he’d published in a psychology journal. He was studying for a PhD in philosophy at the time and realized he could use the techniques he learned in the sciences to advance philosophical thinking.
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