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Justin Sytsma
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Many contemporary experimental philosophers endorse a broad conception of experimental philosophy according to which one is doing experimental philosophy whenever one uses empirical methods and techniques to help investigate philosophical questions. Other experimental philosophers -- and many critics of experimental philosophy -- have assumed a narrower conception and restricted the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2016 at Experimental Philosophy
I am pleased to announce that a new volume on experimental philosophy by Jonathan Livengood and myself will be released by Broadview Press at the end of August. In the first part of The Theory and Practice of Experimental Philosophy we provide an introduction to the topic, adopting a broad... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2015 at Experimental Philosophy
For those of you who haven’t seen it, I wanted to direct your attention to the discussion of recent work by Tony Jack and colleagues on “the diametric mind” at Psychology Today, including the chapter “More than a feeling: Counterintuitive effects of compassion on moral judgment” in the recently released... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2014 at Experimental Philosophy
Hey Wesley! Interesting and provocative paper! I haven't had a chance to read this version as carefully as I would like, but I also had Chandra's worry... and I'm not sure that your comments alleviated it. (Future replication would alleviate my worry, although it would be the replication that I found compelling not the original data.) What I would like to know is how many studies made it through the selection criteria you mention. That is, I would like to know how many studies you looked at and excluded because you didn't see a gender difference. Hopefully you determined your selection criteria first, before checking for a gender difference in the study results. If so, it is important to know how many of those studies (if any) weren't reported, and specifically how many (if any) weren't reported because you saw no gender difference. The worry is that in the absence of that information, your results could be like the following example: Suppose I report the results of 10 studies indicating that men are much better coin-flippers than women. Say that in each of those 10 studies, considered individually, the men flipped at least 50% more heads than the women (say out of 1,000 flips per study and with the flips split evenly between men and woman). If I arrived at those 10 studies, however, by running 10,000 studies total and then selectively picking those 10 from the pool based on the results, it would cast great doubt on whether the results support the conclusion.
Hi Joel, Actually, our paper focuses on a distinct ambiguity from the speaker’s reference / semantic reference ambiguity that Ludwig discusses (and that was, in fact, noted by Kripke himself in talking about the Gödel example). Thus, we note two distinct ambiguities that can be found in Machery et al.’s test question. Beyond the speaker’s reference / semantic reference ambiguity, there is an epistemic ambiguity in the test question. Specifically, the question used in their Gödel probe does not clearly indicate whether the (A) and (B) answer choices are to be read from the narrator’s epistemic perspective (the narrator relaying information of which John is ignorant) or rather from John’s epistemic perspective (as the speaker using the name ‘Gödel’). The reason that this is a problem is that the epistemic perspective that is adopted is relevant to deciding who the descriptions given in the answer choices denote, raising the possibility that different participants might associate the same description with different people from the story. While Machery et al. expect the descriptions to be read from the narrator’s perspective, the question might plausibly lead participants to instead adopt John’s perspective. The result is that it is possible for a participant to think that when John uses the name ‘Gödel’ he is talking about Gödel and nonetheless for that participant to legitimately answer (A) because she reads that description from John’s perspective as denoting Gödel. The four studies that we ran to test the effect of ambiguity on participant responses focus on the epistemic ambiguity. Nonetheless, as our goal was simply to test whether Machery et al.’s results reflect ambiguity in their test question, we did not attempt to distinguish between these two types of ambiguity experimentally. It is therefore possible that in attempting to clarify the epistemic ambiguity, we also clarified the speaker’s reference ambiguity to some extent.