From Plato to the present, appeal to intuition has played a central role in philosophy. However, recent work in experimental philosophy has shown that in many cases intuition cannot be a reliable source of evidence for philosophical theories. Without careful empirical work, there is no way of knowing which intuitions are unreliable. Thus the venerable tradition that views philosophy as a largely a priori discipline that can be pursued from the armchair is untenable.
The first two lectures will survey some of the ways in which intuition is used in philosophy, give an overview of the growing body of evidence indicating that intuition is often unreliable, and develop the argument that this evidence undermines the tradition of armchair philosophy. In the third lecture, the focus will be on gender. There is now a substantial body of evidence indicating that men and women have significantly different intuitions about a number of philosophically important thought experiments. These differences, it will be argued, are part of the explanation for the serious under-representation of women in academic philosophy.
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