A session at the recent APA Pacific on “Multicultural Epistemology” (featuring Jason Stanley and Edouard Machery, among others) has got me thinking about culturally variant intuitions. Recent evidence from experimental philosophy has indicated that respondents in East Asian countries tend to have different reactions than their Western counterparts to cases such as “The Magistrate and the Mob,” or Kripke’s Gödel scenario. A recurring question at the APA session concerned what these differences ought to mean for philosophers working in the given areas. Stanley argued that rather than refuting a prevalent methodology that begins from philosophers’ intuitions about cases, cultural variances simply provide us with a wider data set to be explained. Machery in turn presented his research-in-progress suggesting that cross-cultural intuitions about Gettier cases exhibited far more similarity than previous work by experimental philosophers has suggested. Continue reading →
Philosophy of the Past: Early Chinese Philosophy in Context
Tom Mazanec, Kay Duffy
On a chilly late-winter morning, as the sun pierced through leafless tree branches and the dotted snowscape melted into auguries of spring, a small band of scholars met in Princeton University’s Jones Hall to discuss methods for studying early Chinese philosophy. Organized by two Princeton graduate students, Mercedes Valmisa and Sara Vantournhout, the conference drew approximately twenty-five attendees to hear four main presentations and several hours of lively debate. Martin Kern (Princeton) served as moderator for presentations by Carine Defoort (KU Leuven), Jane Geaney (University of Richmond), Mark Csikszentmihalyi (University of California, Berkeley), and Paul Goldin (University of Pennsylvania) on topics ranging across a wide variety of early texts, employing four distinct methodologies.
As a follow-up to some of the issues raised at NECCT 2, Bryan Van Norden has posted some thoughts on his little-used personal blog: “On the Historical Composition and Dating of Texts.” Here is his conclusion:
We cannot start slicing and dicing a text into sections belonging to different authors or different eras simply [because] we notice in it theoretical tensions, evidence of editing, the use of one word in multiple senses, or heterogeneity of subject matter. I worry when I see what appears to me, at least, to be the quick jump to the conclusion that a text is historically composite before any substantial effort has been made to engage the plausibility of philosophical explanations of the text as a coherent whole. In short, we intellectual historians are admittedly sometimes too quick to jump over textual issues in our excitement to get to systematic philosophical interpretation. However, you cannot address this problem by leaping to the conclusion that a text is historically composite every time you encounter a passage that you don’t immediately know how to reconcile with what you thought you understood before.
Bryan says that he’s unlikely to be able to answer any comments posted on his blog, but anyone who’d like to comment over here is more than welcome to do so.