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5.1i.1. Epistemology of Intuition (Epistemology of Intuition on PhilPapers)

Ahlstrom, Kristoffer (2009). Intuitions in epistemology: Towards a naturalistic alternative. Studia Philosophica Estonica 2:15-34.   (Google)
Abstract: The present paper revisits the main methodological problems with conceptual analysis and considers two attempts to rectify them in terms of prototypes and reflective equilibria, respectively. Finding both wanting for the purposes of epistemological analysis, a naturalistic alternative is then sketched that explores the positive implications of aforementioned problems for the demarcation of the respective roles of intuitions and empirical investigation within three epistemological domains, viz., the evaluation of epistemological hypotheses, the amelioration of epistemic practices, and the construction of a theory of epistemic value.
Audi, Robert (2008). Intuition, inference, and rational disagreement in ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (5).   (Google)
Abstract: This paper defends a moderate intuitionism by extending a version of that view previously put forward and responding to some significant objections to it that have been posed in recent years. The notion of intuition is clarified, and various kinds of intuition are distinguished and interconnected. These include doxastic intuitions and intuitive seemings. The concept of inference is also clarified. In that light, the possibility of non-inferential intuitive justification is explained in relation to both singular moral judgments, which intuitionists do not take to be self-evident, and basic moral principles, which they typically do take to be self-evident in a sense explicated in the paper. This explanation is accomplished in part by drawing some analogies between moral and perceptual judgments in the light of a developmental conception of knowledge. The final section of the paper presents a partial account of rational disagreement and indicates how the kind of intuitionist view defended can allow for rational disagreement between apparent epistemic peers
Bates, Jared (2004). Reflective equilibrium and underdetermination in epistemology. Acta Analytica 19 (32).   (Google)
Abstract: The basic aim of Alvin Goldman’s approach to epistemology, and the tradition it represents, is naturalistic; that is, epistemological theories in this tradition aim to identify the naturalistic, nonnormative criteria on which justified belief supervenes (Goldman, 1986; Markie, 1997). The basic method of Goldman’s epistemology, and the tradition it represents, is the reflective equilibrium test; that is, epistemological theories in this tradition are tested against our intuitions about cases of justified and unjustified belief (Goldman, 1986; Markie, 1997). I will argue that the prospect of having to reject their standard methodology is one epistemologists have to take very seriously; and I will do this by arguing that some current rival theories of epistemic justification are in fact in reflective equilibrium with our intuitions about cases of justified and unjustified belief. That is, I will argue that intuition underdetermines theory choice in epistemology, in much the way that observation underdetermines theory choices in empirical sciences. If reflective equilibrium leads to the underdetermination problem I say it leads to, then it cannot satisfy the aims of contemporary epistemology, and so cannot serve as its standard methodology
Bealer, George (1996). A priori knowledge and the scope of philosophy. Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):121-142.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper provides a defense of two traditional theses: the Autonomy of Philosophy and the Authority of Philosophy. The first step is a defense of the evidential status of intuitions (intellectual seemings). Rival views (such as radical empiricism), which reject the evidential status of intuitions, are shown to be epistemically self-defeating. It is then argued that the only way to explain the evidential status of intuitions is to invoke modal reliabilism. This theory requires that intuitions have a certain qualified modal tie to the truth. This result is then used as the basis of the defense of the Autonomy and Authority theses. The paper closes with a defense of the two theses against a potential threat from scientific essentialism
Bealer, George (1996). A priori knowledge: Replies to William Lycan and Ernest Sosa. Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):163-174.   (Google)
Bealer, George (ms). A priori knowledge: Replies to Lycan and Sosa.   (Google)
Abstract: This paper contains replies to comments on the author's paper "A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy." Several points in the argument of that paper are given further clarification: the notion of our standard justificatory procedure, the notion of a basic source of evidence, and the doctrine of modal reliabilism. The reliability of intuition is then defended against Lycan's skepticism and a response is given to Lycan's claim that the scope of a priori knowledge does not include philosophically central topics such as the nature of consciousness. Next a counterfactual account of intuitions proposed by Sosa is criticized. Finally, in response to certain questions raised by Sosa, the explanation of the evidential status of intuition offered in the original paper receives further elaboration
Bealer, George (2000). A theory of the a priori. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (1):1–30.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The topic of a priori knowledge is approached through the theory of evidence. A shortcoming in traditional formulations of moderate rationalism and moderate empiricism is that they fail to explain why rational intuition and phenomenal experience count as basic sources of evidence. This explanatory gap is filled by modal reliabilism -- the theory that there is a qualified modal tie between basic sources of evidence and the truth. This tie to the truth is then explained by the theory of concept possession: this tie is a consequence of what, by definition, it is to possess (i.e., to understand) one’s concepts. A corollary of the overall account is that the a priori disciplines (logic, mathematics, philosophy) can be largely autonomous from the empirical sciences
Bealer, George (1998). Intuition and the autonomy of philosophy. In Rethinking Intuition.   (Google)
Bealer, George (2002). Modal epistemology and the rationalist renaissance. In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 21 | Google)
Abstract: The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism
Bealer, George (1996). On the possibility of philosophical knowledge. Philosophical Perspectives 10:1-34.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The paper elaborates upon various points and arguments in the author's "A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy"
Bealer, George (1992). The incoherence of empiricism. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 66:99-138.   (Google)
Abstract: Radical empiricism is the view that a person's experiences (sensory and introspective), or a person's observations, constitute the person's evidence. This view leads to epistemic self-defeat. There are three arguments, concerning respectively: (1) epistemic starting points; (2) epistemic norms; (3) terms of epistemic appraisal. The source of self-defeat is traced to the fact that empiricism does not count a priori intuition as evidence (where a priori intuition is not a form of belief but rather a form of seeming, specifically intellectual as opposed to sensory). Moderate rationalism, by contrast, avoids self-defeat
Bealer, George (2004). The origins of modal error. Dialectica 58 (1):11-42.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Modal intuitions are the primary source of modal knowledge but also of modal error. According to the theory of modal error in this paper, modal intuitions retain their evidential force in spite of their fallibility, and erroneous modal intuitions are in principle identifiable and eliminable by subjecting our intuitions to a priori dialectic. After an inventory of standard sources of modal error, two further sources are examined in detail. The first source - namely, the failure to distinguish between metaphysical possibility and various kinds of epistemic possibility - turns out to be comparatively easy to untangle and poses little threat to intuition-driven philosophical investigation. The second source is the local (i.e., temporary) misunderstanding of one's concepts (as opposed to outright Burgean misunderstanding). This pathology may be understood on analogy with a patient who is given a clean bill of health at his annual check-up, despite his having a cold at the time of the check-up: although the patient's health is locally (temporarily) disrupted, his overall health is sufficiently good to enable him to overcome the cold without external intervention. Even when our understanding of certain pivotal concepts has lapsed locally, our larger body of intuitions is sufficiently reliable to allow us, without intervention, to ferret out the modal errors resulting from this lapse of understanding by means of dialectic and/or a process of a priori reflection. This source of modal error, and our capacity to overcome it, has wide-ranging implications for philosophical method - including, in particular, its promise for disarming skepticism about the classical method of intuition-driven investigation itself. Indeed, it is shown that skeptical accounts of modal error (e.g., the accounts given by Hill, Levin, and several others) are ultimately self-defeating
Bealer, George (1987). The philosophical limits of scientific essentialism. Philosophical Perspectives 1:289-365.   (Cited by 44 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities (e.g., water = H2O) can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism (e.g., twin earth intuitions) is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a modal reliabilist theory of basic evidence and a concept-possession account of the reliability of a priori intuition
BonJour, Laurence (1998). In Defense of Pure Reason. Cambridge University Press.   (Google)
Chudnoff, Elijah (2010). The Nature of Intuitive Justification. Philosophical Studies.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper I articulate and defend a view that I call phenomenal dogmatism about intuitive justification. It is dogmatic because it includes the thesis: if it intuitively seems to you that p, then you thereby have some prima facie justification for believing that p. It is phenomenalist because it includes the thesis: intuitions justify us in believing their contents in virtue of their phenomenology—and in particular their presentational phenomenology. I explore the nature of presentational phenomenology as it occurs perception, and I make a case for thinking that it is present in a wide variety of logical, mathematical, and philosophical intuitions.
Cummins, Robert (1998). Reflection on reflective equilibrium. In William Ramsey & Michael R. DePaul (eds.), Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role in Philosophical Inquiry. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.   (Google)
Abstract: As a procedure, reflective equilibrium (RE) is simply a familiar kind of standard scientific method with a new name. (For descriptions of reflective equilibrium, see Daniels 1979, 1980b, 1984; Goodman 1965; Rawls 1971.) A theory is constructed to account for a set of observations. Recalcitrant data may be rejected as noise or explained away as the effects of interference of some sort. Recalcitrant data that cannot be plausibly dismissed force emendations in theory. What counts as a plausible dismissal depends, among other things, on the going theory, as well as on background theory and on knowledge that may be relevant to under-standing the experimental design that is generating the observations, including knowledge of the apparatus and observation conditions. This sort of mutual adjustment between theory and data is a familiar feature of scientific practice. Whatever authority RE seems to have comes, I think, from a tacit or explicit recognition that it has the same form as this familiar sort of scientific inference. One way to see the rationale underlying this procedure in science is to focus on prediction. Think of prediction as a matter of projecting what is known onto uncharted territory. To do this, you need a vehicle—a theory—that captures some invariant or pattern in what is known so that you can project it onto the unknown. How convincing the projection is depends on two factors: (i) how sure one is of the observational base, and (ii) how sure one is that the theory gets the invariants right. The two factors are not independent, of course. One's confidence in the observational base will be affected by how persuasively the theory identifies and dismisses noise; one's confidence in the theory, on the other hand, will depend on one's confidence in the observations it takes seriously. Prediction is important as a test of theory precisely because verified predictions seem to show that the theory has correctly captured the general in the particular, that it has got the drift of the observational evidence in which our confidence is ultimately grounded..
Davis, John K. (2007). Intuition and the junctures of judgment in decision procedures for clinical ethics. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 28 (1).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Moral decision procedures such as principlism or casuistry require intuition at certain junctures, as when a principle seems indeterminate, or principles conflict, or we wonder which paradigm case is most relevantly similar to the instant case. However, intuitions are widely thought to lack epistemic justification, and many ethicists urge that such decision procedures dispense with intuition in favor of forms of reasoning that provide discursive justification. I argue that discursive justification does not eliminate or minimize the need for intuition, or constrain our intuitions. However, this is not a problem, for intuitions can be justified in easy or obvious cases, and decision procedures should be understood as heuristic devices for reaching judgments about harder cases that approximate the justified intuitions we would have about cases under ideal conditions, where hard cases become easy. Similarly, the forms of reasoning which provide discursive justification help decision procedures perform this heuristic function not by avoiding intuition, but by making such heuristics more accurate. Nonetheless, it is possible to demand too much justification; many clinical ethicists lack the time and philosophical training to reach the more elaborate levels of discursive justification. We should keep moral decision procedures simple and user-friendly so that they will provide what justification can be achieved under clinical conditions, rather than trying to maximize our epistemic justification out of an overstated concern about intuition
DePaul, Michael R. & Ramsey, William (eds.) (1998). Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role in Philosophical Inquiry. Rowman & Littlefield.   (Google)
Abstract: Ancients and moderns alike have constructed arguments and assessed theories on the basis of common sense and intuitive judgments. Yet, despite the important role intuitions play in philosophy, there has been little reflection on fundamental questions concerning the sort of data intuitions provide, how they are supposed to lead us to the truth, and why we should treat them as important. In addition, recent psychological research seems to pose serious challenges to traditional intuition-driven philosophical inquiry. Rethinking Intuition brings together a distinguished group of philosophers and psychologists to discuss these important issues. Students and scholars in both fields will find this book to be of great value.
Devitt, Michael (2006). Intuitions in linguistics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (3):481-513.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Linguists take the intuitive judgments of speakers to be good evidence for a grammar. Why? The Chomskian answer is that they are derived by a rational process from a representation of linguistic rules in the language faculty. The paper takes a different view. It argues for a naturalistic and non-Cartesian view of intuitions in general. They are empirical central-processor responses to phenomena differing from other such responses only in being immediate and fairly unreflective. Applying this to linguistic intuitions yields an explanation of their evidential role without any appeal to the representation of rules. Introduction The evidence for linguistic theories A tension in the linguists' view of intuitions Intuitions in general Linguistic intuitions Comparison of the modest explanation with the standard Cartesian explanation A nonstandard Cartesian explanation of the role of intuitions? Must linguistics explain intuitions? Conclusion
Earlenbaugh, Joshua & Molyneux, Bernard (2009). Intuitions are inclinations to believe. Philosophical Studies 145 (1).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Advocates of the use of intuitions in philosophy argue that they are treated as evidence because they are evidential. Their opponents agree that they are treated as evidence, but argue that they should not be so used, since they are the wrong kinds of things. In contrast to both, we argue that, despite appearances, intuitions are not treated as evidence in philosophy whether or not they should be. Our positive account is that intuitions are a subclass of inclinations to believe. Our thesis explains why intuitions play a role in persuasion and inquiry, without conceding that they are evidential. The account also makes predictions about the structure of intuitions that are confirmed by independent arguments
Feltz, Adam (2008). Problems with the appeal to intuition in epistemology. Philosophical Explorations 11 (2):131 – 141.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: George Bealer argues that intuitions are not only reliable indicators of truth, they are necessary to the philosophical endeavor. Specifically, he thinks that intuitions are essential sources of evidence for epistemic justification. I argue that Bealer's defense of intuitions either (1) is insufficient to show that actual human beings are in a position to use intuitions for epistemic justification, or (2) begs the question. The growing empirical data about our intuitions support the view that humans are not creatures appropriately positioned to use intuitions for epistemic justification in the way Bealer suggests. Without the appropriate empirical evidence that humans are beings so positioned, his view begs the question against those who think that intuitions are not reliable guides to truth
Goldman, Alvin I. (2007). Philosophical intuitions: Their target, their source, and their epistemic status. Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):1-26.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Intuitions play a critical role in analytical philosophical activity. But do they qualify as genuine evidence for the sorts of conclusions philosophers seek? Skeptical arguments against intuitions are reviewed, and a variety of ways of trying to legitimate them are considered. A defense is offered of their evidential status by showing how their evidential status can be embedded in a naturalistic framework
Grundmann, Thomas (2007). The nature of rational intuitions and a fresh look at the explanationist objection. Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):69-87.   (Google)
Abstract: In the first part of this paper I will characterize the specific nature of rational intuition. It will be claimed that rational intuition is an evidential state with modal content that has an a priori source. This claim will be defended against several objections. The second part of the paper deals with the so-called explanationist objection against rational intuition as a justifying source. According to the best reading of this objection, intuition cannot justify any judgment since there is no metaphysical explanation of its reliability. It will be argued that in the case of intuition the very demand of such an explanation is based on a category mistake
Hales, Steven D. (2004). Intuition, revelation, and relativism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (3):271 – 295.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper defends the view that philosophical propositions are merely relatively true, i.e. true relative to a doxastic perspective defined at least in part by a non-inferential belief-acquiring method. Here is the strategy: first, the primary way that contemporary philosophers defend their views is through the use of rational intuition, and this method delivers non-inferential, basic beliefs which are then systematized and brought into reflective equilibrium. Second, Christian theologians use exactly the same methodology, only replacing intuition with revelation. Third, intuition and revelation yield frequently inconsistent output beliefs. Fourth, there is no defensible reason to prefer the dictates of intuition to those of Christian revelation. Fifth, the resulting dilemma means that there are true philosophical propositions, but we can't know them (scepticism), or there are no philosophical propositions and the naturalists are right (nihilism), or relativism is true. I suggest that relativism is the most palatable of these alternatives
Hales, Steven D. (2000). The Problem of Intuition. American Philosophical Quarterly 37 (2):135-147.   (Google)
Ichikawa, Jonathan (ms). Sosa on Virtues, Perception, and Intuition.   (Google)
Abstract: I critically evaluate Ernest Sosa's (2007) contrast between intuitive justification and perceptual justification. I defend a competence-based approach to intuitive justification that is continuous with epistemic justification generally.
Ichikawa, Jonathan & Jarvis, Benjamin (2007). Thought-experiment intuitions and truth in fiction. Philosophical Studies 142 (2):221-246.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Forthcoming in Philosophical Studies. Penultimate draft; please refer to published version. Abstract. What sorts of things are the intuitions generated via thought experiment? Timothy Williamson has responded to naturalistic skeptics by arguing that thought-experiment intuitions are judgments of ordinary counterfactuals. On this view, the intuition is naturalistically innocuous, but it has a contingent content and could be known at best a posteriori. We suggest an alternative to Williamson’s account, according to which we apprehend thought-experiment intuitions through our grasp on truth in fiction. On our view, intuitions like the Gettier intuition are necessarily true and knowable a priori. Our view, like Williamson’s, avoids naturalistic skepticism
Ichikawa, Jonathan (ms). Who needs intuitions?   (Google)
Abstract: I argue that this widespread assumption about the evidential role of intuitions is importantly ambiguous, and, in the sense that is relied upon for many such critiques, it is false. Philosophical evidence is not primarily psychological; traditional methodology does not require introspected premises of the form ‘I have the intuition that p’. In this matter, I agree with recent work by Timothy Williamson
Jackman, Henry (2005). Intuitions and semantic theory. Metaphilosophy 36 (3):363-380.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: While engaged in the analysis of topics such as the nature of knowledge, meaning, or justice, analytic philosophers have traditionally relied extensively on their own intuitions about when the relevant terms can, and can't, be correctly applied. Consequently, if intuitions about possible cases turned out not to be a reliable tool for the proper analysis of philosophically central concepts, then a radical reworking of philosophy's (or at least analytic philosophy's) methodology would seem to be in order. It is thus not surprising that the increasingly critical scrutiny that intuitions have received of late has produced what has been referred to as a "crisis" in analytic philosophy. This paper will argue, however, that at least those criticisms that stem from recent work on semantic externalism are not as serious as their proponents have claimed. Indeed, this paper will argue while the conceptual intuitions (and the analyses that result from them) will have to be recognized as fallible, they still have a prima facie claim to correctness. A naturalistic and externalistic account of concepts thus merely requires that the methodology of conceptual analysis be reinterpreted (from a 'Platonic' to a 'constructive' model) rather than given up
Kornblith, Hilary (2007). Naturalism and intuitions. Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):27-49.   (Google)
Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between methodological naturalism and the standard practice within philosophy of constructing theories on the basis of our intuitions about imaginary cases, especially in the work of Alvin Goldman. It is argued that current work in cognitive science presents serious problems for Goldman's approach
Levin, Janet (2007). Can modal intuitions be evidence for essentialist claims? Inquiry 50 (3):253 – 269.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In Naming and Necessity, Kripke argues that intuitions about what is possible play a limited, but important, role in challenging philosophical theses, counting as evidence against them only if they cannot be reconstrued as intuitions about something else, compatible with the thesis in question. But he doesn't provide clear guidelines for determining when such intuitions have been successfully reconstrued, leading some to question their status as evidence for modal claims. In this paper I focus on some worries, articulated by Michael Della Rocca, about whether modal intuitions can be evidence for claims about essential properties, and argue that there is a way of viewing the role of modal intuition in philosophical argument that can preserve their evidential force
Levin, Janet (2004). The evidential status of philosophical intuition. Philosophical Studies 121 (3):193-224.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Philosophers have traditionally held that claims about necessities and possibilities are to be evaluated by consulting our philosophical intuitions; that is, those peculiarly compelling deliverances about possibilities that arise from a serious and reflective attempt to conceive of counterexamples to these claims. But many contemporary philosophers, particularly naturalists, argue that intuitions of this sort are unreliable, citing examples of once-intuitive, but now abandoned, philosophical theses, as well as recent psychological studies that seem to establish the general fallibility of intuition.In the first two sections of this paper, I evaluate these arguments, and also the counter-arguments of contemporary defenders of tradition. In the next two sections, I sketch an alternative account of the role of philosophical intuitions that incorporates elements of traditionalism and naturalism - and defend it against other such views. In the final section, however, I discuss intuitions about conscious experience, and acknowledge that my view may not extend comfortably to this case. This may seem unfortunate, since so much contemporary discussion of the epistemology of modality seems motivated by worries about the mind-body problem, and informed by the position one wishes to endorse. But, as I argue, if conscious experience is indeed an exception to the view I suggest in this paper, it is an exception that proves - and can illuminate - the rule
Ludwig, Kirk (2007). The epistemology of thought experiments : First person versus third person approaches. In Peter A. French & Howard K. Wettstein (eds.), Philosophy and the Empirical. Blackwell Pub. Inc..   (Google | More links)
Abstract: There has been a movement recently to bring to bear on the conduct of philosophical thought experiments (henceforth “thought experiments”)1 the empirical techniques of the social sciences, that is, to treat their conduct as in the nature of an anthropological investigation into the application conditions of the concepts of a group of subjects. This is to take a third person, in contrast to the traditional first person, approach to conceptual analysis. This has taken the form of conducting surveys about scenarios used in thought experiments.2 It has been called “experimental philosophy” by its practitioners and has been applied across a range of fields: the philosophy of language, the philosophy of action, the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.3 The results of these surveys have been used to support conclusions about the application conditions of particular concepts of interest in philosophy. They have also been used to support (and been motivated by) skeptical claims about the traditional approach to conceptual analysis. The..
McEvoy, Mark (2007). Kitcher, mathematical intuition, and experience. Philosophia Mathematica 15 (2).   (Google)
Abstract: Mathematical apriorists sometimes hold that our non-derived mathematical beliefs are warranted by mathematical intuition. Against this, Philip Kitcher has argued that if we had the experience of encountering mathematical experts who insisted that an intuition-produced belief was mistaken, this would undermine that belief. Since this would be a case of experience undermining the warrant provided by intuition, such warrant cannot be a priori. I argue that this leaves untouched a conception of intuition as merely an aspect of our ordinary ability to reason. Thus the apriorist may still hold that some mathematical beliefs are warranted by intuition. I would like to thank an anonymous referee for Philosophia Mathematica and an audience at the Spring 2006 Long Island Philosophy Society/New Jersey Regional Philosophical Association conference for helpful comments
Miščević, Nenad (forthcoming). Explaining modal intuition. Acta Analytica.   (Google)
Abstract: The paper defends causal explanationism concerning our modal intuitions and judgments, and, in particular, the following claims. If a causally explainable mirroring or “pre-established harmony” between our mind and modal reality obtains, we are justified in believing it does. We do not hold our modal beliefs compulsively and blindly but with full subjective and objective justification. Therefore, causal explanation of our modal beliefs does not undermine rational trust in them. Explanation and trust support each other. In contrast, anti-explanationists (from Kant, through neo-wittgensteinians to T. Nagel and J. Pust), claim that causal explanation of intuitions and judgments undermines rational trust in them. They especially target causal explanation in terms of pre-established harmony between our mind, shaped by causal processes, and the underlying modal structure of reality. The paper argues against them. The argument builds upon the claim that the appeal to modal facts is indispensable for systematization and explanation of non-modal ones. Therefore, we should assume that modal facts exist and are not disjoint and isolated from actual facts. The modal structure of the universe intervenes in the non-modal reality. Causal processes indirectly carry information about deep modal structure. Any (reasonable candidate) causal explanation of our intuitional modal beliefs should start from this indirect contact with and information about modal facts. Therefore, if our intuitional modal beliefs are true and causally explainable (by a factual, non-modal explanans), they are true in virtue of the deep underlying modal structure. They are sensitive to modal reality and track it. We can come to know this fact, and thus strengthen our spontaneous trust in our modal intuitions
Miščević, Nenad (2004). The explainability of intuitions. Dialectica 58 (1):43–70.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Explaining intuitions in terms of "facts of our natural history" is compatible with rationally trusting them. This compatibilist view is defended in the present paper, focusing upon nomic and essentialist modal intuitions. The opposite, incompatibilist view alleges the following: If basic modal intuitions are due to our cognitive make-up or "imaginative habits" then the epistemologists are left with a mere non-rational feeling of compulsion on the side of the thinker. Intuitions then cannot inform us about modal reality. In contrast, the paper argues that there are several independent sources of justification which make the feeling of compulsion rational: the prima-facie and a priori ones come from the obviousness of our basic modal intuitions and our not being able to imagine things otherwise, others, a posteriori, from the epistemic success of these intuitions. Further, the general scheme of evolutionary learning is reliable, reliability is preserved in the resulting individual's cognitive make-up, and we can come to know this a posteriori. The a posteriori appeal to evolution thus plays a subsidiary role in justification, filling the remaining gap and removing the residual doubt. Explaining modal intuitions is compatible with moderate realism about modality itself.
Nadelhoffer, Thomas & Feltz, Adam (2008). The actor–observer bias and moral intuitions: Adding fuel to Sinnott-Armstrong's fire. Neuroethics 1 (2):133-144.   (Google | More links)
Abstract:   In a series of recent papers, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong has used findings in social psychology to put pressure on the claim that our moral beliefs can be non-inferentially justified. More specifically, he has suggested that insofar as our moral intuitions are subject to what psychologists call framing effects, this poses a real problem for moral intuitionism. In this paper, we are going to try to add more fuel to the empirical fire that Sinnott-Armstrong has placed under the feet of the intuitionist. Along the way, we first provide an overview of what Sinnott-Armstrong calls the Master Argument against intuitionism. Then we examine some of the literature on framing effects—especially as it pertains to moral philosophy. Finally, we present the results of a new study which create yet another hurdle intuitionists must clear if they want to motivate their view. It appears that in addition to being influenced by framing effects, our moral intuitions are also influenced by an actor–observer bias as well—a bias whereby we hold other people to different moral standards than we would hold ourselves even if we were in the same situation. If we’re right, the burden is on the moral intuitionist to explain why we should have faith in our moral intuitions despite the gathering evidence concerning their seeming unreliability. And by our lights, this is something that simply cannot be done from the armchair
Nagel, Jennifer (2007). Epistemic intuitions. Philosophy Compass 2 (6):792–819.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: We naturally evaluate the beliefs of others, sometimes by deliberate calculation, and sometimes in a more immediate fashion. Epistemic intuitions are immediate assessments arising when someone’s condition appears to fall on one side or the other of some significant divide in epistemology. After giving a rough sketch of several major features of epistemic intuitions, this article reviews the history of the current philosophical debate about them and describes the major positions in that debate. Linguists and psychologists also study epistemic assessments; the last section of the paper discusses some of their research and its potential relevance to epistemology
Nichols, Shaun & Ulatowski, Joseph (2007). Intuitions and individual differences: The Knobe effect revisited. Mind and Language 22 (4):346–365.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Recent work by Joshua Knobe indicates that people’s intuition about whether an action was intentional depends on whether the outcome is good or bad. This paper argues that part of the explanation for this effect is that there are stable individual differences in how ‘intentional’ is interpreted. That is, in Knobe’s cases, different people interpret the term in different ways. This interpretive diversity of ‘intentional’ opens up a new avenue to help explain Knobe’s results. Furthermore, the paper argues that the use of intuitions in philosophy is complicated by fact that there are robust individual differences in intuitions about matters of philosophical concern
Pust, Joel (2001). Against explanationist skepticism regarding philosophical intuitions. Philosophical Studies 106 (3).   (Google)
Abstract: Though most of analytic philosophy is based upon intuitions, some philosophers are beginning to question whether intuitions are an appropriate basis for philosophical theory. This paper responds to the arguments of some contemporary philosophers who hold that intuitions should not be treated as evidence for anything other than our contingent psychological constitution. It begins with a demonstration that skeptical arguments by Gilbert Harman and Alvin Goldman are variations on an argument with the potential to undermine the use of intuitions in much philosophical inquiry. After a demonstration that Nicholas Sturgeon’s response to Harman’s argument is inadequate, it argues that all of the instances of the skeptical argument are unsuccessful because they are epistemically self-defeating.
Pust, Joel (2000). Intuitions as Evidence. Garland Pub..   (Google)
Abstract: This book is concerned with the role of intuitions in the justification of philosophical theory. The author begins by demonstrating how contemporary philosophers, whether engaged in case-driven analysis or seeking reflective equilibrium, rely on intuitions as evidence for their theories. The author then provides an account of the nature of philosophical intuitions and distinguishes them from other psychological states. Finally, the author defends the use of intuitions as evidence by demonstrating that arguments for skepticism about their evidential value are either self-defeating or guilty of arbitrary and unjustified partiality towards non-intuitive modes of knowledge
Pust, Joel (2004). On explaining knowledge of necessity. Dialectica 58 (1):71–87.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Moderate rationalists maintain that our rational intuitions provide us with prima facie justification for believing various necessary propositions. Such a claim is often criticized on the grounds that our having reliable rational intuitions about domains in which the truths are necessary is inexplicable in some epistemically objectionable sense. In this paper, I defend moderate rationalism against such criticism. I argue that if the reliability of our rational intuitions is taken to be contingent, then there is no reason to think that our reliability is inexplicable. I also suggest that our reliability is, in fact, necessary, and that such necessary reliability neither admits of, nor requires, any explanation of the envisaged sort.



Sarch, Alexander (2010). Bealer and the autonomy of philosophy. Synthese 172 (3).   (Google)
Abstract: George Bealer has provided an elaborate defense of the practice of appealing to intuition in philosophy. In the present paper, I argue that his defense fails. First, I argue that Bealer’s theory of determinate concept possession, even if true, would not establish the “autonomy” of philosophy. That is, even if he is correct about what determinate concept possession consists in, it would not follow that it is possible to answer the central questions of philosophy by critical reflection on our intuitions. Furthermore, I argue that Bealer’s account of determinate concept possession in fact faces serious problems. Accordingly, I conclude that Bealer does not succeed in vindicating the appeal to intuition in philosophy
Schollmeier, Paul, Practical intuition and rhetorical example.   (Google)
Abstract: Let us assume with the classical philosophers that we have a faculty of theoretical intuition, through which we intuit theoretical principles, and a faculty of practical intuition, through which we intuit practical principles. This modest assumption would allow us to distinguish conceptual intuitions from perceptual intuitions. l wish to ask how we could then know if our intuitions of practical principles are true or not. Could we justify or verify our theoretical and practical intuitions in the same way? One would think not, for we assume that we have two different faculties for grasping principles of different kinds. We would thus ask what method or technique we could use to justify or to verify our practical principles. The identification of a method for this purpose would appear to be desirable, for surely we ought to have some guide for developing principles for social and political policies. All too often we find that discourse about policy abandons rationality in favor of appeals to emotion or threats of coercion
Seeger, Max (2010). Experimental Philosophy and the Twin Earth Intuition. Grazer Philosophische Studien 80:237-244.   (Google)
Abstract: Jonathan Weinberg (2007) has argued that we should not appeal to intuition as evidence because it cannot be externally corroborated. This paper argues for the normative claim that Weinberg’s demand for external corroboration is misguided. The idea is that Weinberg goes wrong in treating philosophical appeal to intuition analogous to the appeal to evidence in the sciences. Traditional practice is defended against Weinberg’s critique with the argument that some intuitions are true simply in virtue of being intuited by the majority of people. The argument proceeds by way of examining a paradigm case, Putnam’s Twin Earth.
Sosa, Ernest (2007). A Virtue Epistemology. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Sosa, Ernest (2007). Experimental philosophy and philosophical intuition. Philosophical Studies 132 (1):99-107.   (Google | More links)
Abstract:   The topic is experimental philosophy as a naturalistic movement, and its bearing on the value of intuitions in philosophy. This paper explores first how the movement might bear on philosophy more generally, and how it might amount to something novel and promising. Then it turns to one accomplishment repeatedly claimed for it already: namely, the discrediting of armchair intuitions as used in philosophy
Sosa, Ernest (2007). Intuitions: Their nature and epistemic efficacy. Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):51-67.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper presents an account of intuitions, and a defense of their epistemic efficacy in general, and more specifically in philosophy, followed by replies in response to various objections
Sosa, David (2006). Scepticism about intuition. Philosophy 81 (4):633-648.   (Google)
Cullen, Simon (2010). Survey-Driven Romanticism. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (3).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Despite well-established results in survey methodology, many experimental philosophers have not asked whether and in what way conclusions about folk intuitions follow from people’s responses to their surveys. Rather, they appear to have proceeded on the assumption that intuitions can be simply read off from survey responses. Survey research, however, is fraught with difficulties. I review some of the relevant literature—particularly focusing on the conversational pragmatic aspects of survey research—and consider its application to common experimental philosophy surveys. I argue for two claims. First, that experimental philosophers’ survey methodology leaves the facts about folk intuitions massively underdetermined; and second, that what has been regarded as evidence for the instability of philosophical intuitions is, at least in some cases, better accounted for in terms of subjects’ reactions to subtle pragmatic cues contained in the surveys.
Stich, Stephen & Weinberg, Jonathan M., Empirical challenges to the use of intuitions as evidence in philosophy, or why we are not “judgment skeptics”.   (Google)
Abstract: Bealer, G. (1998). “Intuition and the Autonomy of Philosophy,” in M. DePaul & W. Ramsey, eds., Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role in Philosophical Inquiry, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield
Stich, Stephen (ms). Reply to Sosa.   (Google)
Abstract: Sosa’s topic is the use of intuitions in philosophy. Much of what I have written on the issue has been critical of appeals to intuition in epistemology, though in recent years I have become increasingly skeptical of the use of intuitions in ethics and in semantic theory as well
Tersman, Folke (2008). The reliability of moral intuitions: A challenge from neuroscience. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (3):389 – 405.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A recent study of moral intuitions, performed by Joshua Greene and a group of researchers at Princeton University, has recently received a lot of attention. Greene and his collaborators designed a set of experiments in which subjects were undergoing brain scanning as they were asked to respond to various practical dilemmas. They found that contemplation of some of these cases (cases where the subjects had to imagine that they must use some direct form of violence) elicited greater activity in certain areas of the brain associated with emotions compared with the other cases. It has been argued (e.g., by Peter Singer) that these results undermine the reliability of our moral intuitions, and therefore provide an objection to methods of moral reasoning that presuppose that they carry an evidential weight (such as the idea of reflective equilibrium). I distinguish between two ways in which Greene's findings lend support for a sceptical attitude towards intuitions. I argue that, given the first version of the challenge, the method of reflective equilibrium can easily accommodate the findings. As for the second version of the challenge, I argue that it does not so much pose a threat specifically to the method of reflective equilibrium but to the idea that moral claims can be justified through rational argumentation in general
Weatherson, Brian (2003). What good are counterexamples? Philosophical Studies 115 (1):1-31.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Intuitively, Gettier cases are instances of justified true beliefs that are not cases of knowledge. Should we therefore conclude that knowledge is not justified true belief? Only if we have reason to trust intuition here. But intuitions are unreliable in a wide range of cases. And it can be argued that the Gettier intuitions have a greater resemblance to unreliable intuitions than to reliable intuitions. Whats distinctive about the faulty intuitions, I argue, is that respecting them would mean abandoning a simple, systematic and largely successful theory in favour of a complicated, disjunctive and idiosyncratic theory. So maybe respecting the Gettier intuitions was the wrong reaction, we should instead have been explaining why we are all so easily misled by these kinds of cases
Weinberg, Jonathan M.; Nichols, Shaun & Stich, & Stephen P. (2007). Normativity and epistemic intuitions. In Joshua Knobe (ed.), Experimental Philosophy. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Swain, Stacey; Alexander, Joshua & Weinberg, Jonathan (2008). The instability of philosophical intuitions: Running hot and cold on truetemp. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1):138-155.   (Google)
Abstract: A growing body of empirical literature challenges philosophers’ reliance on intuitions as evidence based on the fact that intuitions vary according to factors such as cultural and educational background, and socio-economic status. Our research extends this challenge, investigating Lehrer’s appeal to the Truetemp Case as evidence against reliabilism. We found that intuitions in response to this case vary according to whether, and which, other thought experiments are considered first. Our results show that compared to subjects who receive the Truetemp Case first, subjects first presented with a clear case of knowledge are less willing to attribute knowledge in the Truetemp Case, and subjects first presented with a clear case of nonknowledge are more willing to attribute knowledge in the Truetemp Case. We contend that this instability undermines the supposed evidential status of these intuitions, such that philosophers who deal in intuitions can no longer rest comfortably in their armchairs
Weinberg, Jonathan (2006). What's epistemology for? The case for neopragmatism in normative metaepistemology. In S. Hetherington (ed.), Epistemological Futures.   (Google)
Abstract: How ought we to go about forming and revising our beliefs, arguing and debating our reasons, and investigating our world? If those questions constitute normative epistemology, then I am interested here in normative metaepistemology: the investigation into how we ought to go about forming and revising our beliefs about how we ought to go about forming and revising our beliefs -- how we ought to argue about how we ought to argue. Such investigations have become urgent of late, for the methodology of epistemology has reached something of a crisis. For analytic epistemology of the last half-century has relied overwhelmingly on intuitions,1 and a growing set of arguments and data has begun to call this reliance on intuition seriously into question (e.g., Weinberg, Nichols, and Stich 2001; Nichols, Stich, and Weinberg 2003; Cummins 1998). Although that method has not been entirely without defenders (BonJour 1998; Bealer 1996; Jackson 1998; Sosa forthcoming; Weatherson 2003), these defenses have not generally risen to the specific challenges leveled by the anti-intuitionist critics. In particular, the critics have attacked specific ways of deploying intuitions, and the defenders have overwhelmingly responded with in-principle defenses of the cogency of appealing to intuition. An analogy here would be someone’s responding to arguments alleging systematic..
Williamson, Timothy (2004). Philosphical 'intuitions' and scepticism about judgement. Dialectica 58 (1):109–153.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 1. What are called ‘intuitions’ in philosophy are just applications of our ordinary capacities for judgement. We think of them as intuitions when a special kind of scepticism about those capacities is salient. 2. Like scepticism about perception, scepticism about judgement pressures us into conceiving our evidence as facts about our internal psychological states: here, facts about our conscious inclinations to make judgements about some topic rather than facts about the topic itself. But the pressure should be resisted, for it rests on bad epistemology: specifically, on an impossible ideal of unproblematically identifiable evidence. 3. Our resistance to scepticism about judgement is not simply epistemic conservativism, for we resist it on behalf of others as well as ourselves. A reason is needed for thinking that beliefs tend to be true. 4. Evolutionary explanations of the tendency assume what they should explain. Explanations that appeal to constraints on the determination of reference are more promising. Davidson’s truth-maximizing principle of charity is examined but rejected. 5. An alternative principle is defended on which the nature of reference is to maximize knowledge rather than truth. It is related to an externalist conception of mind on which knowing is the central mental state. 6. The knowledge-maximizing principle of charity explains why scenarios for scepticism about judgement do not warrant such scepticism, although it does not explain how we know in any particular case. We should face the fact that evidence is always liable to be contested in philosophy, and stop using talk of intuition to disguise this unpleasant truth from ourselves