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Experimental Philosophy

Philosophers have attempted to address abstract hard questions as the nature of free will and the condition of justice. In doing so, they often conduct what is called ‘thought experiments’, where various fictional situations are considered. Is there free will in the world where everything is causally determined? Would it be just to sacrifice one person’s life to save other five people? Philosophers consider these cases and construct theories based on judgments on them that appear intuitively plausible.

However, do these judgments look plausible to everyone? Are these judgments so robust that they are unaffected by irrelevant factors? And what mechanisms of thought produce those judgments?

The new discipline called ‘Experimental Philosophy’ tries to figure out systematically how people, non-philosophers, think about such thought experiments and what patterns of variability these judgments show, by adopting psychological methodology. Experimental philosophers have already examined people’s intuitive judgments on various thought experiments in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, epistemology, and ethics, and discussed what implications could be drawn from those results. CAPE is now going to launch a project of experimental philosophy in cooperation with social psychologists and foreign researchers.

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