Experimental Philosophy

20 August 2010 at 2:37 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

Experimental economics is mainstream, and is increasingly popular in management (as well as sociology, political science, criminology, etc.). Laboratory and natural experiments seem to fill more journal pages every year. Esther Duflo took home this year’s Clark Medal for her work on randomized controlled trials. Identification is all the rage in empirical social science, and who needs instrumental variables or fixed effects if you can force ceteris to be paribus through experimental design?

But wait a minute: philosophy? Apparently philosophers are getting into the game, via a new experimental philosophy movement (“X-Phi,” to the cool kids). The NYT Magazine surveyed the field a few years back, and this week’s this week’s “Room for Debate” asks important philosophers what they think. Note the wide range of opinions. My initial reaction was similar to Brian Leiter’s, namely that X-Phi is about being trendy, attracting funding, and keeping philosophy departments from being shredded by budget-conscious administrators. Academia, after all, is among the most faddish of the professions. But who knows. (Thanks to MLC for the link.)

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, Recommended Reading.

One-Size-Fits-All Higher Ed? The Economics of Freedom of Speech

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. srp  |  20 August 2010 at 7:48 pm

    On the face of it, experimental philosophy sounds like psychology to me. Most of the stuff they do is ethical dilemma/lifeboat stuff, which frankly bores the hell out of me–I haven’t pushed anyone in front of a train in years.

    On the other hand, it might be interesting to experiment with philosophy of science by making different teams investigate some puzzle using different methods. Kind of like the Argote papers making teams create origami sailboats and the like using different protocols. Popperian/inductivist shootout, anyone?

  • 2. FC  |  21 August 2010 at 12:43 am

    Experimental philosophy? Michelson, Rutherford and Heisenberg already did it.

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  21 August 2010 at 12:51 am

    I’d like to do one of those train experiments. Might be hard to get the IRB approval, though.

  • 4. Roger Koppl  |  23 August 2010 at 8:48 am

    I think there’s potential in X-Phi. Results so far may look a bit thin to non-philosophers, but it has pushed some basic ideas that meet resistance within discipline. I have a bit of a review of X-Phi here:


    In it, I push an experiment of my own (done with Rob Kurzban and Larry Kobilinsky) as X-Phi based on social epistemology. Here is url for that experiment:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Nicolai J. Foss | home | posts
Peter G. Klein | home | posts
Richard Langlois | home | posts
Lasse B. Lien | home | posts


Former Guests | posts


Recent Posts



Our Recent Books

Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).

%d bloggers like this: