Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Richard A. Fumerton
Traditional philosophy has been under attack from several quarters in recent years. The traditional philosopher views philosophy as an armchair discipline relying, for the most part, on reason and reflection. Some philosophers doubt the legitimacy of this type of inquiry. Their arguments usually occur along two dimensions. Some argue that the primary data source for the armchair philosopher--intuition--does not provide evidence for philosophical theories. Others argue that conceptual analysis, which is the preferred method of inquiry for armchair philosophers, can't yield the results the philosopher is looking for, since concepts like 'knowledge' or 'free-will' vary from culture to culture or even between persons within a culture. Finally, some philosophers argue that we should abandon the armchair program because philosophy should be an empirical enterprise continuous with the sciences.
I argue that attempts to undermine intuition fail and that one can justify the evidential status of intuition in a non-question begging way. I then argue that attacks on the belief in shared concepts do not succeed because they often conflate the nature of scientific objects with those of interest to the philosopher. However, if concepts do vary from culture to culture, I show that the philosopher need not abandon the armchair. She can still do conceptual analysis but it will be only the entry point into the philosophical dialogue. I apply this approach to epistemology arguing that the central epistemic questions ought to be the existential and the normative. This approach helps to vindicate epistemic internalism.
Copyright 2009 Anthony Alan Bryson
Bryson, Anthony Alan. "The view from the armchair: a defense of traditional philosophy." dissertation, University of Iowa, 2009.