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05/22/2014

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David Shope

(1) doesn't need to restrict itself to traditional ways of doing philosophy. The parallel case above doesn't restrict itself to traditional politics. People are perfectly capable of being irrational about non-traditional commitments.

I don't think (2) in either the political or philosophical case should be restricted to empirical evidence. One might have deontic reasons for adopting a political position or non-empirical reasons for adopting a philosophical position. Better to change it to a more open-ended phrasing of "before looking at arguments or evidence" or something like that.

Moti Mizrahi

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment. I agree that "People are perfectly capable of being irrational about non-traditional commitments." I also agree that (2) can apply to arguments and evidence in general, not just empirical evidence in particular. I guess I was mostly thinking about the (puzzling) resistance to making philosophy more empirically informed, a topic we have discussed on the Cocoon before.

jmugg

Moti-

I like 1, but have some problems with 2 and 4:

2 seems disanalogous, since in the case of politics often the claims being made are empirical. I seem to recall O'reilly claiming that Chinese students spend less time using cellphones than US students (which is false), for example, and then claiming that this is why Chinese students outperform US students on certain tests. However, one might think that the debates surrounding free will are not like this. One might think that it is just not an empirical question.

4 also seems disanalogous, since the 'top journals' do not bias (say) perdurantists over endurantists. (This is an empirical question, let me know if I'm wrong!). Perhaps your point is that the 'top journals' bias a certain way of doing philosophy (rather than a certain viewpoint or theory), but that is hardly analogous to the biases present in the media.

Moti Mizrahi

Hi jmugg,

Thanks for your comment. I admit that I have stretched the analogies quite a bit. Without getting too much into the free will debate, which is not the issue here, I will just say that I agree the question “Is there free will?” is not an empirical question per se. However, answers to this question can—and should—be informed by empirical research. This is because human behavior is influenced by factors that can be studied empirically, such as genetic and environmental factors.

As for (4), here is how I am thinking about the analogy. As you say, “top journals” favor a certain style of doing philosophy. Philosophers who read only the so-called “top journals” are exposed only to that philosophical style. In a way, they are going to sources where they will find the kind of philosophy they are familiar with and used to, which is (somewhat) akin to liberals watching only The Daily Show and conservatives watching only The O’Reilly Factor.

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