Article ID: CBB172340733

The Experimental and the Empirical: Arne Naess' Statistical Approach to Philosophy (2018)


Experimental philosophy often draws its data from questionnaire-based surveys of ordinary intuitions. Its proponents are keen to identify antecedents in the work of philosophers who have referred to intuition and everyday understanding [e.g. Knobe, Joshua, and Shaun Nichols, ‘An Experimental Philosophy Manifesto’. In Experimental Philosophy, edited by Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols, 3–14. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007]. In this context, ‘Empirical Semantics’, pioneered by Arne Naess early in the twentieth century, offers striking parallels. Naess believed that much contemporary philosophy was unempirical because it made no reference to ordinary understanding or use of language. In response, he attempted large-scale studies of ordinary understanding of philosophically significant terms [e.g. Naess, Arne. ‘Truth’ as Conceived by Those Who Are Not Professional Philosophers. Oslo: Jacob Dybwad, 1938]. This article will compare Empirical Semantics and experimental philosophy, and assess what such a comparison reveals that might not be apparent from a consideration of either in isolation. It will concentrate on two points of comparison: the wider philosophical ambitions of the two approaches, and the types of criticisms they have encountered. Naess was straightforwardly interested in folk intuitions as philosophical data, whereas many experimental philosophers are also interested in explaining the intuitions themselves. A comparison of the different types of criticism reveals attitudes to philosophical practice which have recurred across a time period of some eighty years, and those which are more specific to historical context.

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Article Alberto Vanzo (2018) Introduction. British Journal for the History of Philosophy (pp. 805-811). unapi

Article Alberto Vanzo (2018) Introduction. British Journal for the History of Philosophy (pp. 805-811). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Parolini, Giuditta
Cooper, Andrew
Sukumar P. Desai
Sarkissian, Hagop
Skorburg, Joshua August
Shreena A. Vyas
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Perspectives on Science
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
Journal of Medical Biography
Springer International Publishing
Oxford University Press
Experiments and experimentation
Experimental philosophy
Case studies
Volder, Burchardus de
Austin, John Langshaw
Knobe, Joshua
Sytsma, Justin
Wilson, John Cook
Fisher, Ronald Aylmer
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
18th century
17th century
Early modern
Vienna Circle
Rothamsted Experimental Station
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia)

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