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Dott.ssa Serena Maria Nicoli

  • Dottorato: 25° ciclo
  • Matricola: 315974

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Tutore

Diego Marconi

Tesi di dottorato

My current research has been about the nature of philosophical intuitions and the role they play in the philosophical practice.

The main issues under examination are the following: 

  • the contexts in which the appeal to intuitions is explicitly put into practice, that is to say thought experiments and reflective equilibrium method.

For both issues the research tries to state precisely 1. the goals, 2. the structure and 3. the way the so-called intuitive judgements are defined and used by the philosophers who apply the methods.

As for the logical structure of thought experiments, the analysis of Williamson is taken into account; in particular his description of thought-experiments as valid deductive arguments that move from modal premises and his proposal toeliminate the notion of intuitive judgement, in favour of that of counterfactual judgement, are discussed.

As for the characterization of the intuitions in the reflective practice, the notions of pre-theoretical judgement, not-explicitly theoretical judgement, considered judgement and competent judges' (experts') judgement are discussed. 

  • The experimental philosophers' criticisms to the methods.

Apropos, it is considered if (i) the empirical studies whose results experimental philosophers' objections are based upon are reliable or not; (ii) if the non-philosophical use of thought-experiments (the transposition of thought experiments to empirical psychology) is legitimate or not: (iii) if what experimental philosophers call “intuition”, that is to say any spontaneous, immediate and unreflected judgement given by non-philosophers to hypothetical or real cases, is the same kind of judgement advocates of the methods describe as intuitive and appeal to; (iv) if their interpretation of reflective equilibrium is an accurate description, or an oversimplification of the method, and, in more general terms, if the image they offer of the philosophy as a practice that is extensively based on the appeal to intuitions is realistic or not.

This last point leads to the problem of the correct interpretation of the role intuitions play in the procedures of elaboration and justification of philosophical thesis.

  • The problem of defining what philosophical intuitions are.

The positions of those who think that intuitions are a special class of beliefs (Bealer, Sosa, Nagel, Pust, Goldman) and the two objections to these attempts of restriction (Williamson) are investigated. Williamson's criticisms based on the thesis of the non-necessity of a faculty of the rational intuition and on the argument of the promiscuous use of the term “intuition” are taken into account.

The opposite position is defended (Lewis, Van Inwagen, Hintikka and Rawls), that is to say, the idea that intuitive judgements do not differ from ordinary judgements (except for the case whereby a presupposition, made by those who present them as intuitive, of their credibility and acceptability). The proposal to redefine intuitions in the terms of Endoxa and Considered Judgements is taken into account.

On the basis of this thesis the question is then asked: why do philosophers speak about intuitions? Is it just, as Hintikka claims, an improper and naïve use of the term given by the fact that philosophers would like to emulate the work of the linguists?Is it, as Williamson argues, a consequence of the psychologizing of the evidence owned to an undue tolerance by philosophers towards the sceptical doubt? Or are there well-grounded reasons to call some judgements “intuitions”? Finally, if these reasons were not there and given the misapprehensions the use of “intuition” talk generate, wouldn't be better to stop speaking about intuitions at all?

Ultimo aggiornamento: 12/05/2015 16:05
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