The rapidly growing movement of experimental philosophy puts empirical methods from the social sciences, and especially psychology, to new uses in philosophy. Through interdisciplinary collaborations, UEA philosophers contribute to extending the methodological repertoire of experimental philosophy. We are adapting methods from psycholinguistics and computational linguistics for fresh philosophical applications, and explore how to complement quantitative with qualitative methods.
Our research is closely bound up with interests in philosophical methodology and classical philosophical concerns about the mind, knowledge, and language, and morality. We study philosophical intuitions and arguments, and philosophically relevant cognition more generally. We thus contribute to the epistemology of intuition, experimental argument reconstruction, experimental epistemology, and experimental ethics, and help build up the experimental philosophy of perception as a new interdisciplinary research area.
An ideal preparation for philosophers without prior training in empirical research is provided by the Experimental Philosophy pathway of UEA’s MRes in Social Science Research Methods. This course offers training in empirical research methods and their philosophical application.
An interdisciplinary collaboration between philosopher Eugen Fischer, psychologist Paul Engelhardt and computational linguist Aurélie Herbelot pioneers the philosophical application of methods from psycholinguistics and computational linguistics. We study default pragmatic enrichment processes that drive inferences in arguments and shape intuitions about verbally described cases. We deploy results to contribute to the epistemology of intuitions, analyse philosophical arguments, and explore new forms of conceptual analysis. Our most recent studies use pupillometry and eye-tracking to examine stereotypical inferences from appearance- and perception-verbs, and seek to expose fallacious inferences in classical paradoxes about perception. We also use distributional semantic analysis to examine the use of these verbs in general and philosophical text corpora. Our ongoing work includes cross-cultural studies with English, German, and Japanese.
Philosopher Davide Rizza started a collaboration with Paola Iannone (Loughborough, Mathematics Education Centre) focussing on the psychology of mathematics education: experimental work testing student intuitions about infinity is being carried out with British sixth-formers and Italian high school students. Our continuing experimental work is aimed at determining whether the non-classical, numerical approach to infinity originated by the work of Yaroslav Sergeyev (University of Calabria) may facilitate student learning of real analysis.
Former UEA Research student Ian Hare works on the AHRC-funded project ‘Concepts in and of autism’. Ian employs qualitative methods in analysing a corpus of autism autobiographies to study the role of conceptual narrowing in autism.
James Andow founded and co-ordinates the Experimental Philosophy Group UK. He has a number of ongoing research interests in experimental philosophy. These include projects in experimental aesthetics, in collaboration with Shen-yi Liao and Aaron Meskin, experimental epistemology, in collaboration with Su Wu and Nat Hansen. He was recently involved in the XPhi Replicability Project.James emphasises the potential for experimental philosophy to contribute to applied projects, and is planning experimental projects in the ethics of climate change.” To “James emphasises the potential for experimental philosophy to contribute to applied projects, and has recently been working with Zenith Delabrida on a GCRF-funded project on moral psychology and environmental ethics.
We hosted the eighth annual conference of the Experimental Philosophy Group UK (15-16 July 2017), on ‘Alternative Methods in Experimental Philosophy: Beyond the Questionnaire’, leading to the volume ‘Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy’ (E. Fischer & M. Curtis, eds., Bloomsbury 2019).
Our recent experimental papers include:
James Andow (2019): Why don't we trust moral testimony? Mind and Language.
Florian Cova, Brent Strickland, Angela Abatista, Aurélien Allard, James Andow, et al (2018): Estimating the Reproducibility of Experimental Philosophy. Review of Philosophy and Psychology
E. Fischer & P.E. Engelhardt (2019): Lingering Stereotypes: Salience bias in philosophical arguments. Mind and Language. 2019; 1-25.
E. Fischer, P.E. Engelhardt, J. Horvath, & H. Ohtani (2019): Experimental Ordinary Language Philosophy: A Cross-Linguistic Study of Defeasible Default Inferences. Synthese. 2019; 1-42.
E. Fischer & P.E. Engelhardt (2019): Eyes as Windows to Minds: Psycholinguistics for Experimental Philosophy. In E. Fischer & M. Curtis (eds.): Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy (pp.43-100). London: Bloomsbury.
James Andow (2018): Aesthetic Testimony and Experimental Philosophy, in Réhault & Cova, Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Aesthetics, Bloomsbury.
J. Andow (2017): Are Intuitions About Moral Relevance Susceptible to Framing Effects? Review of Philosophy and Psychology.
E. Fischer and P.E. Engelhardt (2017): Stereotypical Inferences: Philosophical Relevance and Psycholinguistic Toolkit. Ratio, 30, 411–442
J. Grindrod, J. Andow & N. Hansen (2017): Third Person Knowledge Ascriptions: A Crucial Experiment for Contextualism. Mind & Language.
P. Roberts, J. Andow & K.A. Schmidtke (2017): Lay intuitions about epistemic normativity. Synthese.
J. Andow (2016): Do non-philosophers think epistemic consequentialism is counterintuitive? Synthese.
E. Fischer & P.E. Engelhardt (2016): Intuitions’ Linguistic Sources: Stereotypes, Intuitions, and Illusions. Mind & Language, 31, 67-103.
E. Fischer, P.E. Engelhardt, & A. Herbelot (2015): Intuitions and Illusions: From Experiment and Explanation to Assessment. In E. Fischer and J. Collins (eds.): Experimental Philosophy, Rationalism and Naturalism (pp. 259-292). London: Routledge