A(nother) Puzzle About Appealing to Intuition?

This is a revised version of an old post about a problem with appealing to intuitions. Many of the original premises were overcomplicated and controversial — and, looking back, I am not even sure that the argument is valid…wow, that’s embarrassing. In this post, I try to make the argument less complicated and less controversial. The new argument yields a new conclusion, I think.

P1. The truth-value of a non-contingent premise is not contingent on anything. [Tautology]

P2. Our intuitions and our ability to imagine (i.e., “conceivability“) are contingent on cognitive capacities [assumption].

P3. Our cognitive capacities are contingent on our physical properties [assumption].

C1. Our intuitions and ability to imagine is contingent on our physical properties [P2, P3: HS]. Continue reading A(nother) Puzzle About Appealing to Intuition?

Philosophers’ Carnival #154


Welcome to the 154th installment of the Philosophers’ Carnival. There’s lots to enjoy! Thanks to all those who submitted and thanks to all those who will read and enrich the discussion! Contact me if you find broken links so that I can fix them ASAP.

Continue reading Philosophers’ Carnival #154

Philosophers’ Brains

This link is a poster about philosophers’ brains that I presented at the Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference in Tuscon—I gave a talk based on this poster at University of Utah. Use the link to see a full-size PDF that will allow you to zoom ad nauseum without the blurriness—vector graphics are so cool!

Summary

We should not be surprised if some of the differences between philosophers views correlate with differences between philosophers’ brains. I list a handful of neurobiological differences that already correlate with philosophical differences among non-philosophers. It’s not obvious what we should glean from the possibility that philosophers’ brains could differ as a function of their views. After all, it might be that studying certain views changes our brain. That would not be surprising or concerning, really. But if it were the other way around — e.g., that structural/functional differences in brains predisposed us towards some views and away from other views — then that might be concerning. What if academic philosophy is just an exercise of post hoc rationalization of the views that philosophers’ brains are predisposed toward? Of course, it’s entirely possible that causation works in both directions. But even that could be concerning because that is compatible with self-reinforcing feedback loops. For instance, perhaps we are neurally predisposed to certain views, so we study those views which further predisposes us toward that view (and away from its alternatives). But these questions are getting ahead of the evidence. Hopefully, the neuroscience of philosophy will provide some answers. Until then, check out the poster to see what questions the research has already answered.

Related Posts

An Argument against the reliability of intuition


I’d like to get some feedback on an argument. Here’s the rough outline of the premises.

  1. Our intuitions and our ability or inability to imagine (i.e., “conceivability“) are contingent upon cognitive capacities.
  2. Our cognitive capacities are contingent upon our material composition (e.g., the structure and function of our brains [Assumption].
  3. Our intuitions and ability (or inability) to imagine is contingent upon our material composition [1,2 HS]. Continue reading An Argument against the reliability of intuition

Philosophers’ Carnival #139


Greetings and welcome! This Philosopher’s Carnival comes from Boulder, CO. Posts are in the order in which they were submitted/found and summaries are beneath each post.
Continue reading Philosophers’ Carnival #139