In this chapter, Appiah presents experimental studies that seem to challenge our use of intuitions. He then outlines some responses to these studies. I shall begin with a summary of the chapter, using Appiah’s subheadings for easy navigation. I shall then offer some commentaries on this chapter.

Everybody’s heard about Joshua Greene’s fMRI studies of moral judgement. Many have also heard about the study by Koenigs, Young, Adolphs, Cushman, Tranel, Cushman, Hauser and Damasio of patients with prefrontal damage. In a communication I co-authored with Nick Shackel and which has just come out in Nature, we criticise the methodology used in these studies.

The second chapter of Experiments in Ethics (E in E) is entitled ‘The Case against Character’, and it focuses on a recent critique of virtue ethics due to Gilbert Harman, John Doris and some other philosophers. The inspiration for their attack on virtue ethics is a body of experimental work produced by ‘situationists’, members of an influential school of thought in social psychology.

Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT)

Value, Respect, and Wellbeing: Themes from the Work of Joseph Raz

Friday 9 May 2008
Time: 9.30am – 5.15pm
Venue: The Boardroom, Arthur Lewis Building, University of Manchester

Provisional Programme:
9.30 – 10.00 registration
10.00 – 11.15 session 1: Steven Wall (Bowling Green State University)
11.15 – 11.30 coffee
11.30 – 12.45 session 2: Leslie Green (University of Oxford)
12.45 – 1.30 lunch
1.30 – 2.45 session 3: Brad Hooker (University of Reading)
2.45 – 3.00 tea
3.00 – 4.15 session 4: Stephen Darwall (University of Michigan)
4.15 – 5.15 session 5: Discussion with replies by Joseph Raz (University of Oxford and Columbia University)

Chapter One is essentially a ground clearing exercise. Appiah’s aim is to argue that experimental philosophy is not the innovative and threatening enterprise that it might seem: instead, it is a return to philosophy’s roots. Philosophy has traditionally been closely informed by scientific work, and the best philosophers have often engaged in science themselves. It is the era of conceptual analysis divorced from mere empirical engagement that is the aberration, not the turn to the empirical.

This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0.