Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Experimental Philosophy Movement Explores Real-life Dilemmas

Date:
July 4, 2008
Source:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Summary:
Imagine a business executive who thinks: "I know that this new policy will harm the environment, but I don't care at all about that -- I just want to increase profits." Is the business executive harming the environment intentionally? Faced with this question, 82 percent of people polled said yes.

Imagine a business executive who thinks: "I know that this new policy will harm the environment, but I don't care at all about that -- I just want to increase profits." Is the business executive harming the environment intentionally? Faced with this question from a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill philosopher, 82 percent of people polled said yes.

Related Articles


But then UNC scholar Joshua Knobe changed the word "harm" to "help." This time, the executive thinks: "I know that this new policy will help the environment, but I don't care at all about that -- I just want to increase profits." Is the business executive helping the environment intentionally? This time, only 33 percent of respondents said yes.

These are the sorts of questions posed in a new movement called experimental philosophy, where scholars leave their armchairs to talk to people directly about how they form their opinions and values. A new book by Knobe and University of Arizona philosopher Shaun Nichols being published this month is the first volume to discuss the controversial approach that is challenging conventional notions about the discipline.

"Experimental Philosophy" (Oxford University Press), edited by Knobe and Nichols, brings together seven "greatest hits," considered the most influential papers in experimental philosophy. It also includes several provocative new papers, including an introductory chapter by Knobe and Nichols, "An Experimental Philosophy Manifesto."

Although the experimental philosophy movement is only a few years old, it has already led to a surge of new research -- including experimental studies that explore people's ordinary understanding of morality, free will, happiness and other key philosophical issues. The aim is to dive right into the messy real world and to use psychological experimentation to get at the roots of philosophical problems.

"If you look back through the history of philosophy -- all the way from the ancient Greeks to the 19th century Germans -- you find in-depth discussions of how ordinary people actually think and feel," said Knobe, an assistant professor of philosophy in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences. "The aim of experimental philosophy is to return the discipline to this more traditional approach. The only difference is that contemporary experimental philosophers address their questions by actually going out and running experiments."

Studies like the one involving the business executive and the environment can help get at the roots of philosophical debates, Knobe said. "Experiments like these are beginning to suggest that people's ordinary way of understanding the world is suffused through and through with moral considerations."

"This sort of research is important not only for its philosophical implications but also for what it tells us about how people ordinarily think," Knobe added. "The more we know about how people make moral judgments, the more we will be able to understand how people come to blame each other and enter into conflict."

Nichols added that one of the most exciting prospects of experimental philosophy is that it can help assess whether certain cherished philosophical beliefs are well grounded. "By figuring out the psychological sources of our philosophical beliefs, we are in a better position to evaluate whether we are justified in having those beliefs," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Experimental Philosophy Movement Explores Real-life Dilemmas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080702121138.htm>.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2008, July 4). Experimental Philosophy Movement Explores Real-life Dilemmas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080702121138.htm
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Experimental Philosophy Movement Explores Real-life Dilemmas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080702121138.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins