The study of consciousness (see here and here) has long played a crucial role in the discipline of philosophy, where facts about such intuitions form the basis for some complex and influential philosophical arguments. But, traditionally, the study of these intuitions has employed a somewhat peculiar method. Philosophers did not actually go ask people what intuitions they had. Instead, each philosopher would simply think the matter over for him- or herself and then write something like: “In a case such as this, it would surely be intuitive to say…”

The new field of experimental philosophy introduces a novel twist on this traditional approach. Experimental philosophers continue the search to understand people’s ordinary intuitions, but they do so using the methods of contemporary cognitive science (see also here and here)—experimental studies, statistical analyses, cognitive models, and so forth. Just in the past year or so, a number of researchers have been applying this new approach to the study of intuitions about consciousness. By studying how people think about three different types of abstract entities—a corporation, a robot and a God—we can better understand how people think about the mind.

« Experimental philosophy: a new approach? »

A quote saved on Feb. 26, 2013.


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