Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Robert J. Stainton


I will argue that the scientific investigation of philosophical intuition ('experimental philosophy') is of philosophical interest. I will defend the significance of experimental philosophy against two important types of objection. I will term the first objection 'eliminativism' about intuitions: roughly, it is the claim that philosophical methodology does not in fact rely on intuition, and thus experimental philosophy's investigation is ill-conceived—in the words of one such opponent, 'a big mistake.' I will then consider a second objection, the 'expertise' defence. The expertise defence argues that the expert intuitions of professional philosophers are distinct, and to be preferred to those of the 'folk.' Against the eliminativists, I will argue that an ineliminable mental component remains that can be subject of fruitful empirical investigation. Against the expertise defence I will argue that, at least in the context of philosophy of language, expertise is itself a potential source of bias. Since expertise is domain-specific, however, a general rebuttal will not be given. I will conclude that experimental philosophy has much to contribute.