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Experiments in Ethics (The Mary Flexner Lectures)

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The Ethics of Identity Hardback. The Ethics of Identity Paperback. As If: Idealization and Ideals Hardback. Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. They have called into question commonplaces about character and offered troubling explanations for various moral intuitions. Research like this may help explain what, in fact, we do and feel. But can it tell us what we ought to do or feel? In Experiments in Ethics , the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah explores how the new empirical moral psychology relates to the age-old project of philosophical ethics.

Some moral theorists hold that the realm of morality must be autonomous of the sciences; others maintain that science undermines the authority of moral reasons. Appiah elaborates a vision of naturalism that resists both temptations.

He traces an intellectual genealogy of the burgeoning discipline of "experimental philosophy," provides a balanced, lucid account of the work being done in this controversial and increasingly influential field, and offers a fresh way of thinking about ethics in the classical tradition. Appiah urges that the relation between empirical research and morality, now so often antagonistic, should be seen in terms of dialogue, not contest. And he shows how experimental philosophy, far from being something new, is actually as old as philosophy itself.

The Philosophy of “As If”

Beyond illuminating debates about the connection between psychology and ethics, intuition and theory, his book helps us to rethink the very nature of the philosophical enterprise. Table of Contents Prologue 1. Introduction: The Waterless Moat 2. The Case against Character 3. The Case against Intuition 4. The Varieties of Moral Experience 5. The Ends of Ethics Notes Acknowledgments Index What People are Saying About This Experiments in Ethics is wonderful: concise but not breezy, clear but not simplistic, wide-ranging but focused, filled with wit and learning.

It is an accessible, lively, and balanced introduction to empirical moral psychology that I recommend happily to philosophers and non-philosophers. This dazzlingly written book argues for reconnecting moral philosophy with the sciences, both natural and social--and demonstrates that the reconnection, while in a sense overdue, reconnects philosophy with its ancient interest in empirical issues.

Experiments in Ethics Mary Flexner Lectures of Bryn Mawr College

Appiah's important argument promises to transform more than one field. Some situations seem to defy obvious moral resolutions. Should you do it? Is there a right answer? If there were, how could we learn what it is?

Some philosophers insist that the best way is to take these questions into the lab, rather than settling them in the armchair. John wonders if perhaps the whole notion of experimental philosophy is an oxymoron. Is the new trend just a fad, or a bunch of young philosophers acting on their acute science envy? Can we find norms experimentally? The esteemed philosopher Anthony Appiah joins us. Though he once worked on traditional philosophical problems, he recently wrote a book exploring what experiments can tell us about ethical questions.

Why would he leave his comfortable armchair? One may see this as a reason to abandon our traditional intuitions, but it can also mean that our intuitions guide us in a more complicated way than one would ordinarily imagine. One might look at the way we refer to character traits, for instance. Though some experiments establish that they do exist to some extent, many others demonstrate that they are far less consistent than we ordinarily suppose.

It would be an overreaction to abandon talk of them altogether, but where should we draw the line? But then again, is it really appropriate to combine philosophy and psychology in this way?

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Some like John, for instance would like to say that the two disciplines cover completely different issues. While psychology may be interesting, it presumably does not cover questions of morality. Some philosophers tried to blend philosophy entirely into psychology and other empirical disciplines, but that approach is far from popular these days.