The role of intuition in philosophical practice

  • Tinghao WANG

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


This dissertation examines the recent arguments against the “Centrality” thesis—the thesis that intuition plays central evidential roles in philosophical inquiry—and their implications for the negative program in experimental philosophy. Two types of objections to Centrality are discussed. First, there are some objections which turn out to only work against Centrality when it is taken as a potential form of philosophical exceptionalism. I respond by showing that negative experimental philosophy doesn’t need the assumption that philosophy is distinctive in its reliance on intuitions. Second, there are some objections which turn out to be related to some particular view concerning the nature of evidence. In response, I distinguish between several different versions of Centrality, and argue that the version of Centrality that experimentalists need remains innocuous. Though none of the arguments against Centrality works as intended, I agree with its opponents that negative experimental philosophers have mischaracterized philosophical practice in a way which has problematic consequences for at least some versions of their argument. Specifically, I contend that philosophical practice grants important evidential status to general intuitions and context-rich intuitions, but extant experimental studies have almost exclusively focused on case intuitions and context-poor intuitions. I conclude that those who work on the negative program of experimental philosophy need to more carefully examine how philosophers actually use intuition in their practice.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Philosophy
SupervisorJennifer Ellen NADO (Supervisor)

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