At the Pacific APA, there was a pretty interesting Symposium on the role of intuitions in philosophy. The three presenters were George Bealer (offering a defense of the use of intuitions), Jonathan Weinberg (offering a criticism of the use of intuitions), and Brian Talbot (offering a moderate, empirically-based defense of the use of some intuitions).
I’ve been wanting to write up a brief post on Weinberg’s talk. The talk contained an argument along the following lines:
Two sorts of argument widely employed in philosophy are (a) Compact Deductive Arguments, and (b) Inference to the Best Explanation arguments (broadly construed). Weinberg then argued that (a) is amenable to traditional armchair methodology, while (b) requires revising philosophical methodology in the manner articulated/defended/preferred by experimental philosophers. Weinberg concluded that this makes experimental philosophy a necessary/appropriate/inevitable next stage of philosophy.
During the Q&A, I asked why the methodological revision called for by this situation was the adoption of empirical methods, rather than an increased reliance/use of Compact Deductive Arguments (and reduction in the use of IBE arguments). In reply, Weinberg i) acknowledged that his talk hadn’t established the appropriateness of using IBE, and ii) indicated that he would be curious to know what philosophy would look like if my proposed methodological revision occurred.
I don’t mean to be taking a stand on whether to abandon IBE arguments, adopt such-and-such experimental methods, or challenge Weinberg’s position that using IBE arguments requires the adoption of such-and-such experimental methods. All I wanted to point out is that one could have substantively agreed with almost everything Weinberg sought to establish, and not have felt much pressure at all to abandon the armchair.