Friday, July 30, 2010

Alexandra Bradner, Chris Weigl & Emily Esch, "Pedagogical Issues in Experimental Philosophy"

“Clickers and experimental philosophy”


Sample survey


What experimental philosophy is.

Empirical philosophy: Any philosophy where people use empirical work, generally from other disciplines. People have been doing this for ever. John Doris Lack of Character

Experimental philosophy: Philosophers who run their own experiments.

Negative project vs. positive progress

Negative: Bashing conceptual analysis. Intuitions are suspect, subject to framing effects, etc.

Positive: Finding out what folk concepts people actually have. Useful work on personal identity and free will. Sean Nichols on agency.

Knobe (2006). [Josh Knobe founding father of movement.)

Environmental question: chairman of the board intentionally harmed the environment but not intentionally helped.


What unique discussions can experimental philosophy bring to a class?

Nahmias and Nadelhoffer “Polling in teaching philosophy” in teaching philosophy.

Guy goes off on whether these should be called “thought experiments” or “hypotheticals”

Why does this matter?

How can we best integrate experimental philosophy with traditional texts?

Intro level: In the background while talking about thought experiments
Upper level: As an explicit metaphilosophical issue.

What special challenges does teaching experimental philosophy face?


Introduction to philosophy with experimental philosophy
Units covered: Morality, personality Identity, Epistemology, Free Will, God

Thought experiments covered: Trolley, transplant, experience machine, ship of Theseus, soul switching, eletransporter, Gettier, truetemp, trapped conversationalist, drug addict, Pascal’s wager

She used the thought experiment at the intro with no background. Surveys on pencil and paper. Tabulated by prof.


Comprehension: Its worse than you thought. People don’t understand the thought experiments


Variation: increased rigor makes the variation in intuitions more salient.

Justification: leads people to justify their answers.


Paper version of original survey. “Always have a plan B when you are working with technology”

Turningpoint Anywhere. With Response XR clicker.

Her recommended system:

Bioethics guy has a turning point ppt on the turning point website. This si very good.

Use cell phones or laptops

Disadvantage: It just draws attention to people who are lower income.


Best for research. Lets you do branching surveys. Easy to print from.


Coolest clicker ever.
Higher ed unfriendly.
Great metrics.


Namias, et al., Nichols and Knobe. Good articles using x-phi in the free will area.

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