Max Deutsch

View on Amazon

There is a movement in contemporary philosophy known as "experimental philosophy" or "x-phi" for short. It proceeds against the backdrop of a critique of contemporary analytic philosophy. According to the Xi-phi critique, analytic philosophers rely too heavily on an unsound method which involves arguing for philosophical conclusions from premises whose force rests solely in what philosophers find "intuitive" or "obvious." Using polling and survey methods, experimental philosophers show that claims that philosophers often take to be "intuitive" are in fact not commonly held among non-philosophers, and that individuals' sense of what's "obvious" varies according to factors such as ethnicity, geography, age, and gender. In light of this, X-philes claim that analytic philosophy is doomed, for it treats philosophers' intuitions as evidence in favor of philosophical claims. But the variability of intuitions shows that intuitions have no evidentiary weight.

In The Myth of the Intuitive: Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Method (MIT, 2015), Max Deutsch defends analytic philosophy against the x-phi critique by showing that, in fact, analytic philosophers do not treat intuitions as evidence. Drawing on careful readings of the texts that are the central targets of the x-phi critique, Deutsch shows that analytic philosophers rarely appeal to intuitions as if they provided evidential support.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Margaret MorrisonReconstructing Reality: Models, Mathematics, and Simulations

July 15, 2015

Almost 400 years ago, Galileo wrote that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. Today, mathematics is integral to physics and chemistry, and is becoming so in biology, economics, and other sciences, although amid great controversy. The messy reality of biological creatures and their social relations cannot be captured in mathematical […]

Read the full article →

Kevin VallierLiberal Politics and Public Faith: Beyond Separation

July 1, 2015

In a liberal democracy, citizens share political power as equals. This means that they must decide laws and policies collectively. Yet they disagree about fundamental questions regarding the value, purpose, and meaning of life. What role should their convictions concerning these matters play in their public activity as citizens? According to familiar answers, citizens must […]

Read the full article →

Helen de Cruz and Johan de SmedtA Natural History of Natural Theology: The Cognitive Science of Theology and Philosophy of Religion

June 15, 2015

In A Natural History of Natural Theology: The Cognitive Science of Theology and Philosophy of Religion (MIT Press, 2015), Helen de Cruz of the VU University Amsterdam and Johan de Smedt of Ghent University examine how the findings of cognitive science can and cannot be used to draw conclusions about the rationality of religious belief. […]

Read the full article →

L. A. PaulTransformative Experience

June 1, 2015

We typically make decisions based on a projection of their likely outcome with respect to the things we value. We seek to maximize of enhance the things we think are good, and minimize what we think is bad. But sometimes we are faced with a decision where we must choose whether to undergo an experience […]

Read the full article →

M. Joshua MozerskyTime, Language, and Ontology: The World from the B-Theoretic Perspective

May 15, 2015

Is the present time uniquely real, or do past or future equally exist? Does saying the word “now” simply express the speaker’s current position in time the way “here” expresses her current position in space? In Time, Language, and Ontology: The World from the B-Theoretic Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2015), M. Joshua Mozersky, Associate Professor of […]

Read the full article →

Jason StanleyHow Propaganda Works

May 1, 2015

"Propaganda" names a familiar collection of phenomena, and examples of propaganda are easy to identify, especially when one examines the output of totalitarian states. In those cases, language and imagery are employed for the purpose of shaping mass opinion, forming group allegiances, constructing worldviews, and securing compliance. It is undeniable that propaganda is employed by […]

Read the full article →

Wayne WuAttention

April 15, 2015

The mental phenomenon of attention is often thought of metaphorically as a kind of spotlight: we focus our attention on a particular item or task, our attention is divided or diffused when we try to text and drive at the same time, and our attention is captured when we suddenly hear our name pop out […]

Read the full article →

George SherEquality for Inegalitarians

April 1, 2015

There's a longstanding debate in political philosophy regarding the fundamental point or aim of justice. According to one prominent view, the point of justice is to neutralize the influence of luck over individuals' shares of basic social goods. This view is known as luck egalitarianism. It holds, roughly, that inequality is consistent with justice only […]

Read the full article →

Marya SchechtmanStaying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life

March 15, 2015

What is it to be the same person over time? The 17th-century British philosopher John Locke approached this question from a forensic standpoint: persons are identified over time with an appropriately related series of psychological states, in particular a chain of memories, and our interest in identifying persons in this way stems from our interest […]

Read the full article →