•  17
    Research in the psychology of causal thinking has frequently revealed effects of normative considerations on causal attributions, where participants tend to assign causality more strongly to agents who violate a norm in bringing about an outcome. Across several experiments, we show that it is possible to reverse this norm effect when the outcome in question is good rather than bad: in these cases, participants assign causality more strongly to a norm-conforming agent than to an agent who violate…Read more
  •  15
    In this paper, we reply to Tom Sorell’s criticism of our engagement with the history of philosophy in our book, The Theory and Practice of Experimental Philosophy. We explain why our uses of the history of philosophy are not undermined by Sorell’s criticism and why our position is not threatened by the dilemma Sorell advances. We argue that Sorell has mischaracterized the dialectical context of our discussion of the history of philosophy and that he has mistakenly treated our use of the history …Read more
  •  14
    No Problem: Evidence that the Concept of Phenomenal Consciousness is Not Widespread
    with E. Ozdemir
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10): 241-256. 2019.
    The meta-problem is 'the problem of explaining why we think that there is a problem of consciousness' (Chalmers, 2018, p. 6). This presupposes that we think there is a problem in the first place. We challenge the breadth of this 'we', arguing that there is already sufficient empirical evidence to cast doubt on the claim. We then add to this body of evidence, presenting the results of a new cross-cultural study extending the work of Sytsma and Machery (2010).
  •  13
    Robot pains and corporate feelings
    The Philosophers' Magazine 52 78-82. 2011.
    Most philosophers of mind follow Thomas Nagel and hold that subjective experiences are characterised by the fact that there is “something it is like” to have them. Philosophers of mind have sometimes speculated that ordinary people endorse, perhaps implicitly, this conception of subjective experiences. Some recent findings cast doubt on this view.
  •  13
    Research indicates that norms matter for ordinary causal attributions. Across a range of cases in which two agents jointly bring about an outcome, with one violating a norm while the other does not, causal ratings are higher for the agent who violates the norm. Building off such findings, Kominsky et al. note a related phenomenon that they term “causal superseding”—whether or not one agent violates a norm also affects causal ratings for the other agent. Kominsky et al. offer an explanation of th…Read more
  •  12
    This paper trials new experimental methods for the analysis of natural language reasoning and the development of critical ordinary language philosophy in the wake of J.L. Austin. Philosophical arguments and thought experiments are strongly shaped by default pragmatic inferences, including stereotypical inferences. Austin suggested that contextually inappropriate stereotypical inferences are at the root of some philosophical paradoxes and problems, and that these can be resolved by exposing those…Read more
  •  11
    In the opening paragraph of “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” Alan Turing famously notes that “if the meaning of the words ‘machine’ and ‘think’ are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, ‘Can machines think?’ is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll.” He then immediately responds, “But this is absurd.” But why is this absurd, if indeed it is? We think that the suggest…Read more
  •  11
    Causation, Responsibility, and Typicality
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1-21. forthcoming.
    There is ample evidence that violations of injunctive norms impact ordinary causal attributions. This has struck some as deeply surprising, taking the ordinary concept of causation to be purely descriptive. Our explanation of the findings—the responsibility view—rejects this: we contend that the concept is in fact partly normative, being akin to concepts like responsibility and accountability. Based on this account, we predicted a very different pattern of results for causal attributions when an…Read more
  •  10
    It is often asserted that we should believe that phenomenal consciousness exists because it is pretheoretically obvious. If this is the case, then we should expect lay people to categorize mental states in roughly the way that philosophers do, treating prototypical examples of phenomenally conscious mental states similarly. Sytsma and Machery present preliminary evidence that this is not the case. They found that participants happily ascribed seeing red to a simple robot but denied that the robo…Read more
  •  10
    Both advocates and critics of experimental philosophy often describe it in narrow terms as being the empirical study of people’s intuitions about philosophical cases. This conception corresponds with a narrow origin story for the field—it grew out of a dissatisfaction with the uncritical use of philosophers’ own intuitions as evidence for philosophical claims. In contrast, a growing number of experimental philosophers have explicitly embraced a broad conception of the sub-discipline, which treat…Read more
  •  8
    In previous work, we presented evidence suggesting that ordinary people do not conceive of subjective experiences as having phenomenal qualities. We then argued that these findings undermine a common justification given for the reality of the hard problem of consciousness. In a thought-provoking article, Talbot has challenged our argument. In this article, we respond to his criticism.
  •  4
    In recent years, developments in experimental philosophy have led many thinkers to reconsider their central assumptions and methods. It is not enough to speculate and introspect from the armchair - philosophers must subject their claims to scientific scrutiny, looking at evidence and in some cases conducting new empirical research. "The Theory and Practice of Experimental Philosophy" is an introduction and guide to the systematic collection and analysis of empirical data in academic philosophy. …Read more
  • Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Disputes
    Essays in Philosophy 13 (1): 145-161. 2012.
    One view of philosophy that is sometimes expressed, especially by scientists, is that while philosophers are good at asking questions, they are poor at producing convincing answers. And the perceived divide between philosophical and scientific methods is often pointed to as the major culprit behind this lack of progress. Looking back at the history of philosophy, however, we find that this methodological divide is a relatively recent invention. Further, it is one that has been challenged over th…Read more
  • Neuroscience & the nature of philosophy
    Iride: Filosofia e Discussione Pubblica 46 495-514. 2005.