Saturday, November 7, 2009
Experimental philosophers discover that the folk are likely enrolled in philosophy courses where they are surveyed by experimental philosophers
There's an interesting discussion over at Experimental Philosophy (here). The question is whether 'the folk' are objectivists and there's some interesting evidence that suggests that some folk are not. In the comments, Angel floats the possibility that the students in the course might not be immature moral agents. It seems there's something to that suggestion. I noted half-jokingly that if we were given surveys as undergrads (I'm only speaking of some students who went to Rhodes, not the students who took the actual surveys), our profs would discover that sleep-deprived, binge-drinking, prescription-drug abusing undergrads sometimes speak as relativists do when answering survey questions. I worry that such results tell us little about our friends and neighbors who aren't college students. I worry that they tell us little about our students' attitudes when not in phil class. Two worries. The students are a bad sample because they aren't morally mature. The students responses don't provide clean data because students will take relativism more seriously in the context of a philosophy course than they would if they were just reading the paper or watching the news. So, what's an experimental philosopher to do?