Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-24-2014

Graduate Advisor

Professor Brit Brogaard

Committee

Berit Brogaard

Eric Wiland

Elizabeth Schechter

Abstract

The nature of philosophical intuitions has been a popular topic for philosophical debate. Here, I survey the views available about the nature of intuitions, how to discern and discriminate intuitions from beliefs, feelings, and seemings, and whether or not intuitions count as evidence. Then, I present an account of intuitions that is based on dual-process theory, and argue that philosophical intuitions should be understood as ordinary intuitions are in this account. After analysis of the environment in which philosophical intuitions are learned and receive feedback (although intuitions about logical structures of argument is a notable exception), I conclude that philosophical intuitions are unreliable and that they should not count as significant philosophical evidence. However, I also maintain (the seemingly paradoxical position) that philosophers can have reliable intuitions about some philosophical questions. These positions can both be understood by a dual-process theory account of intuitions, and the reliability that we associate with these processes. Given this paradoxical account of the reliability of philosophical intuitions, I think the reliability of philosophical intuitions falls somewhere between those intuitions of an expert chess-player and an avid sports gambler.

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