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Hardcover | $37.00 Short | £30.95 | 216 pp. | 6 x 9 in | April 2015 | ISBN: 9780262028950
eBook | $26.00 Short | April 2015 | ISBN: 9780262327367
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The Myth of the Intuitive

Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Method


In The Myth of the Intuitive, Max Deutsch defends the methods of analytic philosophy against a recent empirical challenge mounted by the practitioners of experimental philosophy (xphi). This challenge concerns the extent to which analytic philosophy relies on intuition—in particular, the extent to which analytic philosophers treat intuitions as evidence in arguing for philosophical conclusions. Experimental philosophers say that analytic philosophers place a great deal of evidential weight on people’s intuitions about hypothetical cases and thought experiments. Deutsch argues forcefully that this view of traditional philosophical method is a myth, part of “metaphilosophical folklore,” and he supports his argument with close examinations of results from xphi and of a number of influential arguments in analytic philosophy.

Analytic philosophy makes regular use of hypothetical examples and thought experiments, but, Deutsch writes, philosophers argue for their claims about what is true or not true in these examples and thought experiments. It is these arguments, not intuitions, that are treated as evidence for the claims.

Deutsch discusses xphi and some recent xphi studies; critiques a variety of other metaphilosophical claims; examines such famous arguments as Gettier’s refutation of the JTB (justified true belief) theory and Kripke’s Gödel Case argument against descriptivism about proper names, and shows that they rely on reasoning rather than intuition; and finds existing critiques of xphi, the “Multiple Concepts” and “Expertise” replies, to be severely lacking.

About the Author

Max Deutsch is Associate Professor and Head of Department in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong.


“[A]s Deutsch's discussion shows, we need to be much more careful both in how we formulate our arguments and how we understand them when we are considering philosophical methodology. For anyone wishing to think seriously about these issues, The Myth of the Intuitive is required reading.”—Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


“A bun fight in academic philosophy! Xphi accuses analytic philosophers of relying on intuitions that they have shown to vary from culture to culture, age to age, gender to gender. Burn the armchair! Max Deutsch hits back, arguing persuasively that analytic philosophy in general never relies in this way on intuitions, and no analytic philosopher has ever done so!”
Jeff Pelletier, University of Alberta
“This book should extinguish any fire supposedly burning the armchair. Grounded in a number of too-often-ignored important distinctions, Deutsch shows how much of the exciting new work in xphi can be appreciated and valued, while seeing traditional analytic philosophy as untouched”
David Sosa, Temple Professor in the Humanities, Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin
“Max Deutsch’s book is a careful reality check in the face of excessive claims made by those who argue that reflective theorizing and reliance on thought experiments in philosophy need to be tested, or even replaced, by experimental devices, especially surveys of the untutored and uninitiated. Deutsch argues forcefully against the common notion that traditional analytic philosophy uses unreasoned intuition instead of informed arguments as evidence for such philosophical claims as that one does not know p, or that moral responsibility does not require the capacity to do otherwise. The corrective is long overdue.”
Nathan Salmon, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Max Deutsch’s carefully argued book is an important contribution to the ongoing ferment about philosophical method. It will help us get a lot clearer about whether philosophy involves appeal to ‘intuition’ and, if so, whether that is a legitimate route to philosophical understanding”
Paul Boghossian, Silver Professor of Philosophy, New York University