Max Deutsch

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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.

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