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Apr 06

Recent Survey of Philosophers

David Chalmers recently spearheaded a survey on some major topics in philosophy. The survey was extended to top philosophers in the field, as well as some graduate students. You can find detailed results here.

Below, I’ve given each category’s general outcome and specified my own view in red. Feel free to share your thoughts on any of the categories or ask for clarification.

A priori knowledge: yes or no?

Accept or lean toward: yes 662 / 931 (71.1%)
Accept or lean toward: no 171 / 931 (18.3%)
Other 98 / 931 (10.5%)

 

Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?

Accept or lean toward: Platonism 366 / 931 (39.3%)
Accept or lean toward: nominalism 351 / 931 (37.7%)
Other 214 / 931 (22.9%)

 

Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?

Accept or lean toward: objective 382 / 931 (41%)
Accept or lean toward: subjective 321 / 931 (34.4%)
Other 228 / 931 (24.4%)

 

Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no?

Accept or lean toward: yes 604 / 931 (64.8%)
Accept or lean toward: no 252 / 931 (27%)
Other 75 / 931 (8%)

 

Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism?

Accept or lean toward: externalism 398 / 931 (42.7%)
Other 287 / 931 (30.8%)
Accept or lean toward: internalism 246 / 931 (26.4%)

 

External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?

Accept or lean toward: non-skeptical realism 760 / 931 (81.6%)
Other 86 / 931 (9.2%)
Accept or lean toward: skepticism 45 / 931 (4.8%)
Accept or lean toward: idealism 40 / 931 (4.2%)

 

Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?

Accept or lean toward: compatibilism 550 / 931 (59%) – 2nd choice
Other 139 / 931 (14.9%)
Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 128 / 931 (13.7%)
Accept or lean toward: no free will 114 / 931 (12.2%)

 

God: theism or atheism?

Accept or lean toward: atheism 678 / 931 (72.8%)
Accept or lean toward: theism 136 / 931 (14.6%)
Other 117 / 931 (12.5%)

 

Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism?

Accept or lean toward: contextualism 373 / 931 (40%)
Accept or lean toward: invariantism 290 / 931 (31.1%)
Other 241 / 931 (25.8%)
Accept or lean toward: relativism 27 / 931 (2.9%)

 

Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism?

Other 346 / 931 (37.1%)
Accept or lean toward: empiricism 326 / 931 (35%)
Accept or lean toward: rationalism 259 / 931 (27.8%)

 

Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean?

Accept or lean toward: non-Humean 532 / 931 (57.1%)
Accept or lean toward: Humean 230 / 931 (24.7%)
Other 169 / 931 (18.1%)

 

Logic: classical or non-classical?

Accept or lean toward: classical 480 / 931 (51.5%)
Other 308 / 931 (33%) – Unsure
Accept or lean toward: non-classical 143 / 931 (15.3%)

 

Mental content: internalism or externalism?

Accept or lean toward: externalism 476 / 931 (51.1%)
Other 269 / 931 (28.8%) – Unsure
Accept or lean toward: internalism 186 / 931 (19.9%)

 

Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism?

Accept or lean toward: moral realism 525 / 931 (56.3%)
Accept or lean toward: moral anti-realism 258 / 931 (27.7%)
Other 148 / 931 (15.8%)

 

Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism?

Accept or lean toward: naturalism 464 / 931 (49.8%)
Accept or lean toward: non-naturalism 241 / 931 (25.8%)
Other 226 / 931 (24.2%)

 

Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?

Accept or lean toward: physicalism 526 / 931 (56.4%)
Accept or lean toward: non-physicalism 252 / 931 (27%)
Other 153 / 931 (16.4%)

 

Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism?

Accept or lean toward: cognitivism 612 / 931 (65.7%)
Other 161 / 931 (17.2%)
Accept or lean toward: non-cognitivism 158 / 931 (16.9%)

 

Moral motivation: internalism or externalism?

Other 329 / 931 (35.3%)
Accept or lean toward: internalism 325 / 931 (34.9%)
Accept or lean toward: externalism 277 / 931 (29.7%)

 

Newcomb’s problem: one box or two boxes?

Other 441 / 931 (47.3%)
Accept or lean toward: two boxes 292 / 931 (31.3%)
Accept or lean toward: one box 198 / 931 (21.2%)

 

Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics?

Other 301 / 931 (32.3%) – not familiar enough with the issue
Accept or lean toward: deontology 241 / 931 (25.8%)
Accept or lean toward: consequentialism 220 / 931 (23.6%)
Accept or lean toward: virtue ethics 169 / 931 (18.1%)

 

Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory?

Other 393 / 931 (42.2%)
Accept or lean toward: representationalism 293 / 931 (31.4%)
Accept or lean toward: qualia theory 114 / 931 (12.2%)
Accept or lean toward: disjunctivism 102 / 931 (10.9%)
Accept or lean toward: sense-datum theory 29 / 931 (3.1%)

 

Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view?

Other 347 / 931 (37.2%)
Accept or lean toward: psychological view 313 / 931 (33.6%)
Accept or lean toward: biological view 157 / 931 (16.8%)
Accept or lean toward: further-fact view 114 / 931 (12.2%)

 

Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism?

Other 382 / 931 (41%)
Accept or lean toward: egalitarianism 324 / 931 (34.8%)
Accept or lean toward: communitarianism 133 / 931 (14.2%)
Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 92 / 931 (9.8%)

 

Proper names: Fregean or Millian?

Other 343 / 931 (36.8%) – Probably Russellian
Accept or lean toward: Millian 321 / 931 (34.4%)
Accept or lean toward: Fregean 267 / 931 (28.6%)

 

Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism?

Accept or lean toward: scientific realism 699 / 931 (75%)
Other 124 / 931 (13.3%)
Accept or lean toward: scientific anti-realism 108 / 931 (11.6%)

 

Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?

Accept or lean toward: survival 337 / 931 (36.1%)
Other 304 / 931 (32.6%)
Accept or lean toward: death 290 / 931 (31.1%)

 

Time: A-theory or B-theory?

Other 542 / 931 (58.2%)
Accept or lean toward: B-theory 245 / 931 (26.3%)
Accept or lean toward: A-theory 144 / 931 (15.4%)

 

Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): switch or don’t switch?

Accept or lean toward: switch 635 / 931 (68.2%) – although there are certain situations where I would not
Other 225 / 931 (24.1%)
Accept or lean toward: don’t switch 71 / 931 (7.6%)

 

Truth: correspondence, deflationary, or epistemic?

Accept or lean toward: correspondence 473 / 931 (50.8%)
Accept or lean toward: deflationary 231 / 931 (24.8%)
Other 163 / 931 (17.5%)
Accept or lean toward: epistemic 64 / 931 (6.8%)

 

Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?

Accept or lean toward: conceivable but not metaphysically possible 331 / 931 (35.5%)
Other 234 / 931 (25.1%)
Accept or lean toward: metaphysically possible 217 / 931 (23.3%)
Accept or lean toward: inconceivable 149 / 931 (16%)

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3 comments

  1. Chris

    Hi Mike. Could you talk about the teletransporter problem? I’ve been searching and can’t find anything. Thanks.

  2. Mike

    Hi Chris. Thanks for the question. I think your difficulty in finding this information is the odd wording of the survey. If you search for “philosophy teleportation,” that should provide more results. This idea really comes from science fiction, and specifically Star Trek. The thought experiment is roughly as follows:

    Say there is a teleportation device. On one end, this device scans your body to retrieve your exact chemical/physical makeup down to the basest parts (be they atoms, quarks, etc.). You are then dissolved at the first end and recreated exactly at the output end. Everything about you is the same. Presumably, you would even have your memories, as they are stored in your brain. Some questions arise from this. Is it still you? Did you survive or is this some new person merely resemblling you?

    There is an underlying discussion there about the nature of “you.” Are you more than just your physical makeup? Is there some aspect of personhood that would not be transferrable in this physical arrangement? These are difficult and intriguing questions, though, I ultimately don’t think thought experiments give us any real insight into questions of dualism.

  3. Mike

    By the way, here is an interesting article on the Newcomb Problem, which is another goofy philosophy problem not well known to the general public.

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/nc/newcombs_problem_and_regret_of_rationality/

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