The Institute of Philosophy RCH HAS cordially invites you to its upcoming talk:

Justin Sytsma (Victoria University of Wellington):
Are religious philosophers less analytic?

Date: 5 December 2017, 16:00
Venue: 4. Tóth Kálmán st., Budapest, 1097; 7th floor


Some researchers in philosophy of religion have charged that the sub-discipline exhibits a number of features of poor health, prominently including that “partisanship is so entrenched that most philosophers of religion, instead of being alarmed by it, just take it for granted” (Draper and Nichols, 2013, 421). And researchers in experimental philosophy of religion have presented empirical work that supports this contention, arguing that it shows that confirmation bias plays a notable role in the acceptance of natural theological arguments among philosophers (De Cruz, 2014; Tobia, 2015; De Cruz and De Smedt, 2016).

But while these studies indicate that there is a correlation between religious belief and judgments about natural theological arguments, they do not establish that causation runs from belief to judgment as has been claimed. In this paper I offer an alternative explanation, suggesting that thinking style is a plausible common cause. I note that previous research has shown a significant negative correlation between analytic thinking style and both religious belief and religious engagement in the general population (Shenhav, Rand, and Greene, 2012; Gervaise and Norenzayan, 2012; Pennycook et al., 2012, 2013; Jack et al., 2016).

Further, other research has shown a significant positive correlation between analytic thinking style and training in philosophy that is independent of overall level of education (Livengood et al., 2010).

Pulling these threads together, I hypothesize that there is an especially strong correlation between thinking style and religiosity among philosophers. This hypothesis is tested by looking at a sample of 524 people with an advanced degree in philosophy. The results support the hypothesis, showing a medium-large negative correlation between analytic thinking style and religious engagement that is roughly twice as strong as has been reported for the general population (r=-0.39 among men, r=-0.34 among women). And the correlation is even stronger if we restrict to Christian theists and non-theists (r=-0.61 among men, r=-0.62 among women).

The Institute of Philosophy RCH HAS cordially invites you to its upcoming talk:

Adrian Ziólkowski
What is Experimental Philosophy? A short story about using empirical methods in philosophy

Date: 28 November 2017, 16:00
Venue: 4. Tóth Kálmán st., Budapest, 1097; 7th floor


Experimental philosophy (also known as ‘x-phi’) is a new current in modern analytic philosophy that proposes quite a revolutionary approach to well-known philosophical problems. The crucial characteristic of experimental philosophy as a unique approach to philosophical inquiry is a conviction that at least some philosophical issues can be settled by systematic empirical studies. Such a research program in philosophy, which has been treated as an a priori domain for centuries, is an unquestionable novelty.

The proponents of experimental philosophy justify their research objectives by noticing that asserting empirically testable claims is quite common in philosophy. When philosophers present thought experiments (or ‘possible scenarios’) to illustrate their theories or argue in favor of them, they usually claim that most people would express similar intuitions about the scenario in question (for example: „most people would say that an agent in a Gettier-case has a justified true belief that p, but does not know that p”). Such claims are empirical hypotheses that can be put to test. Experimental philosophers conduct systematic, survey-based experiments to check whether the intuitions of armchair philosophers about certain philosophically significant cases are indeed supported by intuitions of people who are not „trained philosophers”.

Experimental philosophy aims at collecting data on folk intuitions concerning philosophical thought experiments and drawing philosophically significant conclusions from that data. In my talk I will provide an introduction to x-phi, its methods and most famous findings, and also mention some controversy spurred by that approach to philosophizing.

X-phi is not a monolithic movement, although most of its proponents use the same „scenario method” which consists in presenting scenarios based on philosophical thought experiments to laypeople, they draw different conclusions from the collected data. I will present divisions of branches within experimental philosophy (positive vs. negative x-phi; experimental conceptual analysis, experimental restrictivism, experimental descriptivism) and illustrate it with examples of studies conducted by experimental philosophers.

I will also discuss the problems that experimental philosophers had to face when developing their approach. I will consider main objections addressed by the opponents of experimental philosophy, such as (1) the expertise argument; (2) the quality of intuition argument; (3) the irrelevance argument. Moreover, I will analyze some of the problems noticed by experimental philosophers themselves, such as (1) measurement validity and reliability issues; (2) difficulties in separating semantic and pragmatic factors in empirical data; (3) replicability issues.

I will conclude by noticing the significant role experimental philosophy played in stimulating the recent metaphilosophical debate about methods used in philosophy, which – regardless of interesting empirical findings – makes x-phi worthwhile.

We are proud to announce that Zuh Deodáth, postdoctoral fellow at our Institute, had been awarded the Arnold Hauser Prize. The award ceremony took place at Bartók-room of the Institute of Musicology RCH, HAS on the 9th of November 2017.

Arnold Hauser, theoerist and sociologist of art is the eponym of the prize established by his widow, Rózsa Borus in 1980s. The basic intention behind this form of recognition was to promote the followers of Hauser’s synthetic style of theorizing with prestigious publications in the field of a broadly conceived history of philosophy, art, and intellectuals. This prize was awarded every two or four years following its establishment under the auspecies of the Hauser Arnold Foundations’ Board of Trustees. The Boards has been presided succesively by Miklós Szabolcsi, Béla Németh G., and, currently, by Ernő Marosi. For the list of Hauser Arnold Prize laureates see link.

The Resarch Group for the History and Philosophy of Science, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences cordially invites you to the upcoming talk of its seminar series:

Dr. Ruth Boeker (University College Dublin):
Does the Soul Always Think? Locke and his Early Critics and Defenders on Consciousness and Sleep

Date of the event: 30th October 2017., 17:00
Venue of the event: 4. Tóth Kálmán st., Budapest, 1097; 7th floor

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