Biggest ever survey of philosophers results

Biggest ever survey of philosophers results January 3, 2013

So the philpapers survey of philosophers is somewhere I often go to see what the general trend is for modern philosophers. Not so much as an argumentum ad populum – quite a number of the results are evenly split – but to get an idea of which positions are deemed most tenable by those in the know. It really is fascinating reading. I might start doing a series on what each question means. Yes, that’s a good idea. Done. Aah, these good ole streams of consciousness out of which good ideas spout forth.

 

 

A priori knowledge: yes or no?

Accept or lean toward: yes 662 / 931 (71.1%)
Accept or lean toward: no 171 / 931 (18.4%)
Other 98 / 931 (10.5%)

 

Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?

Accept or lean toward: Platonism 366 / 931 (39.3%)
Accept or lean toward: nominalism 351 / 931 (37.7%)
Other 214 / 931 (23.0%)

 

Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?

Accept or lean toward: objective 382 / 931 (41.0%)
Accept or lean toward: subjective 321 / 931 (34.5%)
Other 228 / 931 (24.5%)

 

Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no?

Accept or lean toward: yes 604 / 931 (64.9%)
Accept or lean toward: no 252 / 931 (27.1%)
Other 75 / 931 (8.1%)

 

Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism?

Accept or lean toward: externalism 398 / 931 (42.7%)
Other 287 / 931 (30.8%)
Accept or lean toward: internalism 246 / 931 (26.4%)

 

External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?

Accept or lean toward: non-skeptical realism 760 / 931 (81.6%)
Other 86 / 931 (9.2%)
Accept or lean toward: skepticism 45 / 931 (4.8%)
Accept or lean toward: idealism 40 / 931 (4.3%)

 

Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?

Accept or lean toward: compatibilism 550 / 931 (59.1%)
Other 139 / 931 (14.9%)
Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 128 / 931 (13.7%)
Accept or lean toward: no free will 114 / 931 (12.2%)

 

God: theism or atheism?

Accept or lean toward: atheism 678 / 931 (72.8%)
Accept or lean toward: theism 136 / 931 (14.6%)
Other 117 / 931 (12.6%)

 

Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism?

Accept or lean toward: contextualism 373 / 931 (40.1%)
Accept or lean toward: invariantism 290 / 931 (31.1%)
Other 241 / 931 (25.9%)
Accept or lean toward: relativism 27 / 931 (2.9%)

 

Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism?

Other 346 / 931 (37.2%)
Accept or lean toward: empiricism 326 / 931 (35.0%)
Accept or lean toward: rationalism 259 / 931 (27.8%)

 

Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean?

Accept or lean toward: non-Humean 532 / 931 (57.1%)
Accept or lean toward: Humean 230 / 931 (24.7%)
Other 169 / 931 (18.2%)

 

Logic: classical or non-classical?

Accept or lean toward: classical 480 / 931 (51.6%)
Other 308 / 931 (33.1%)
Accept or lean toward: non-classical 143 / 931 (15.4%)

 

Mental content: internalism or externalism?

Accept or lean toward: externalism 476 / 931 (51.1%)
Other 269 / 931 (28.9%)
Accept or lean toward: internalism 186 / 931 (20.0%)

 

Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism?

Accept or lean toward: moral realism 525 / 931 (56.4%)
Accept or lean toward: moral anti-realism 258 / 931 (27.7%)
Other 148 / 931 (15.9%)

 

Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism?

Accept or lean toward: naturalism 464 / 931 (49.8%)
Accept or lean toward: non-naturalism 241 / 931 (25.9%)
Other 226 / 931 (24.3%)

 

Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?

Accept or lean toward: physicalism 526 / 931 (56.5%)
Accept or lean toward: non-physicalism 252 / 931 (27.1%)
Other 153 / 931 (16.4%)

 

Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism?

Accept or lean toward: cognitivism 612 / 931 (65.7%)
Other 161 / 931 (17.3%)
Accept or lean toward: non-cognitivism 158 / 931 (17.0%)

 

Moral motivation: internalism or externalism?

Other 329 / 931 (35.3%)
Accept or lean toward: internalism 325 / 931 (34.9%)
Accept or lean toward: externalism 277 / 931 (29.8%)

 

Newcomb’s problem: one box or two boxes?

Other 441 / 931 (47.4%)
Accept or lean toward: two boxes 292 / 931 (31.4%)
Accept or lean toward: one box 198 / 931 (21.3%)

 

Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics?

Other 301 / 931 (32.3%)
Accept or lean toward: deontology 241 / 931 (25.9%)
Accept or lean toward: consequentialism 220 / 931 (23.6%)
Accept or lean toward: virtue ethics 169 / 931 (18.2%)

 

Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory?

Other 393 / 931 (42.2%)
Accept or lean toward: representationalism 293 / 931 (31.5%)
Accept or lean toward: qualia theory 114 / 931 (12.2%)
Accept or lean toward: disjunctivism 102 / 931 (11.0%)
Accept or lean toward: sense-datum theory 29 / 931 (3.1%)

 

Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view?

Other 347 / 931 (37.3%)
Accept or lean toward: psychological view 313 / 931 (33.6%)
Accept or lean toward: biological view 157 / 931 (16.9%)
Accept or lean toward: further-fact view 114 / 931 (12.2%)

 

Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism?

Other 382 / 931 (41.0%)
Accept or lean toward: egalitarianism 324 / 931 (34.8%)
Accept or lean toward: communitarianism 133 / 931 (14.3%)
Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 92 / 931 (9.9%)

 

Proper names: Fregean or Millian?

Other 343 / 931 (36.8%)
Accept or lean toward: Millian 321 / 931 (34.5%)
Accept or lean toward: Fregean 267 / 931 (28.7%)

 

Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism?

Accept or lean toward: scientific realism 699 / 931 (75.1%)
Other 124 / 931 (13.3%)
Accept or lean toward: scientific anti-realism 108 / 931 (11.6%)

 

Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?

Accept or lean toward: survival 337 / 931 (36.2%)
Other 304 / 931 (32.7%)
Accept or lean toward: death 290 / 931 (31.1%)

 

Time: A-theory or B-theory?

Other 542 / 931 (58.2%)
Accept or lean toward: B-theory 245 / 931 (26.3%)
Accept or lean toward: A-theory 144 / 931 (15.5%)

 

Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): switch or don’t switch?

Accept or lean toward: switch 635 / 931 (68.2%)
Other 225 / 931 (24.2%)
Accept or lean toward: don’t switch 71 / 931 (7.6%)

 

Truth: correspondence, deflationary, or epistemic?

Accept or lean toward: correspondence 473 / 931 (50.8%)
Accept or lean toward: deflationary 231 / 931 (24.8%)
Other 163 / 931 (17.5%)
Accept or lean toward: epistemic 64 / 931 (6.9%)

 

Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?

Accept or lean toward: conceivable but not metaphysically possible 331 / 931 (35.6%)
Other 234 / 931 (25.1%)
Accept or lean toward: metaphysically possible 217 / 931 (23.3%)
Accept or lean toward: inconceivable 149 / 931 (16.0%)
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  • Excellent catch!

    • It was conducted in 2009 and has been my first port of call for ages for what philosophers think.

  • CJ and I did a show on this once, tippling all the while. Three beers in, things became more lucid: http://tinyURL.com/b2aca33

    • Have downloaded. Will listen!

      • Remember we’re just tipplers, not philosophers. We would be interested in professional feedback, however. :)

  • Andy_Schueler

    Really interesting – reminds me of how little I actually know about philosophy because I don´t even understand some of the questions ;-).
    Does the “Teletransporter” question refer to something like the beaming process in Star Trek ?
    Also, it seems that there is a sizable fraction that leans to atheism but not to naturalism (73% atheism but only 50% naturalism) – do you have a hunch where this might come from ? (is substance dualism a popular position among philosophers ?)

    • I think dualism and consciousness might well represent the difference. Also, leftfield non-god spirituality might pick up a few. 

      As Keith Sugustine said of the question:

      “I flip-flopped on “Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism” a few times because I wasn’t sure what “naturalism” meant as a “metaphilosophy.” If the labels had been prefaced with metaphysics, philosophy of religion, metaethics, or epistemology I would’ve known exactly what it meant (something different in each case except the first two, and maybe even slightly different there). I finally settled on the guess that it meant naturalized epistemology, though it then should have been prefaced as “Epistemology: naturalism or non-naturalism” IMO.”

      Commonsense atheism pointed this out too:

      “Consider some other correlations with philosophical orientation:

      Atheism is most correlated with not being a philosopher of religion, with not identifying with Plato or Aristotle or Kant or Leibniz, with analytic philosophy, with identifying with Hume and Quine, and with specializing in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, and philosophy of cognitive science.

      Theism is most correlated with being a philosopher of religion or specializing in medieval and renaissance philosophy, with identifying with Plato and Aristotle and Kant and Leibniz, with being a continental philosopher, and with not identifying with Hume and Quine.

      Naturalism is most correlated with specializing in philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind, and general philosophy of science, with identifying with Hume and Quine, with not identifying with Husserl, Plato, Moore, and Kant, and with not specializing in philosophy of religion, metaphysics, or continental philosophy.

      Non-naturalism is most correlated with specializing in philosophy of religion and metaphysics, with not specializing in philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of biology, or philosophy of mind, with not identifying with Hume and Quine, and with identifying with Husserl, Plato, Moore, and Kant.”

      • The metasurvey is important in seeing what TYPE of philosopher believed what (such that philosophers of religion would be more likely to support non-naturalism, perhaps).

    • Philosophy 101 philpapers style part 2 coming out tomorrow – abstract objects.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    I agree with Andy.  I haven’t a clue what most of these mean.  I’d love a series just explaining what these questions mean.

  • This is actually reinforces for me why I agree with Stephen Hawking: philosophy is dead. Some of this stuff is irrelevant in light of modern science, like the A and B theories of time – Einstein proved that time is relative to the observer.  Others, like the biological and psychological views of personality, aren’t mutually exclusive.

    But here’s my main rub. Notice that on virtually all these issues, there’s little consensus. Why? Why haven’t philosophers figured out a way to test their theories to see if they are both reliable and valid, thus systematically eliminating erroneous propositions? Oh wait! Because then they’d be scientists, and philosophy would be dead.

    • Mike

      thanks for the comment. The problem is, with what you say, is that science struggles incredibly to deal with abstracta. Concepts, and even mental thought, is elusive. Enter stage right philosophy.

      Even the ontology of properties, even more fundamental than the building blocks of science, are up for grabs.
       

  • padawanphysicist

    Thanks for sharing this; I find it quite interesting. I admit I don’t know what many of these things mean, and am eagerly looking forward towards your series on this. I’m especially curious about the Humean/non-Humean laws of nature bit.

    Despite what Mike D said, I found interesting the issues where a clear majority of philosophers support a particular position. Atheism, scientific realism, and a priori knowledge especially strike me. I’ll also note that a >50% majority on the ‘time’ question chose ‘other,’ probably in no small part because of insight from the relativity theories. From what philosophy I’ve read, philosophers are generally more than eager to take relevant knowledge from scientific theories into account, so I’m always confused by science advocates who act like science and philosophy are in conflict.

    • Philosophy 101 philpapers style part 2 coming out tomorrow – abstract objects.

  • Pingback: Philosophy 101 (philpapers induced) #2 – Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism | A Tippling Philosopher()

  • Pingback: Philosophy 101 (philpapers induced) #3 – Aesthetic value: objective or subjective? | A Tippling Philosopher()

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  • Pingback: Philosophy 101 (philpapers induced) #5: Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism? | A Tippling Philosopher()

  • Pingback: Philosophy 101 (philpapers induced) #6: External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism? | A Tippling Philosopher()

  • Pingback: Philosophy 101 (philpapers induced) #7: Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will? | A Tippling Philosopher()

  • Pingback: Philosophy 101 (philpapers induced) #8: Belief in God: theism or atheism? • A Tippling Philosopher()