He discusses a new trend in academic philosophy: experimentation.
“But now a restive contingent of our tribe is convinced that it can shed light on traditional philosophical problems by going out and gathering information about what people actually think and say about our thought experiments.”
I’m not certain which tribe that is…
“Can you really do philosophy with clipboards and questionnaires? It seems that you can.”
If you’re thinking of studying philosophy for money, or prestige, or tenure, or to help people by way of some social utility…then you should probably think again.
“There always comes a point where the clipboards and questionnaires and M.R.I. scans have to be put aside. To sort things out, it seems, another powerful instrument is needed. Let’s see — there’s one in the corner, over there. The springs are sagging a bit, and the cushions are worn, but never mind. That armchair will do nicely.”
So while Appiah devotes a NY Times article to this subject, he isn’t too impressed.
If advancement in the field means only this type of work or, at least, a constant management of current trends like this one…then I’m not too impressed either.
What do the students think?
Addition: Josh Knobe at UNC, an experimental philosopher, on Bloggingheads