Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Gettier" Intuition Across Cultures

No doubt many of you will have seen this by now, but for those who have not:
Noûs has just published a truly amazing study on this topic by a team of experimental philosophers (Machery, Stich, Rose, Chatterjee, Karasawa, Struchiner, Sirker, Usui & Hashimoto), and I think this new study gives us a much better understanding of the relevant empirical facts. The researchers presented two different Gettier cases to participants in the United States, Brazil, India and Japan, yielding a total sample size of 521 participants.

I post this because it is relevant to earlier conversation on the relevance of experimental philosophy for comparative philosophy and Indian philosophy. In particular, Anand Vaidya writes, reflecting on the relationship between the three,
Thus: If the question is: how should classical Indian philosophers modify their practice and research in light of these ideas and new ways of engaging things? I would say: don’t worry. Nothing here changes classical Indian philosophical practice. However, if the question is: Can classical Indian philosophers contribute to a new enterprise that will help present important ideas from the tradition to the public and to other parts of academia? I would say: absolutely.

And on experimental philosophy informing comparative/Indian philosophy, Stephen Phillips notes in the comments:
Similarly, what people say about Gettier problems in Delhi or Hong Kong does not seem to me to be nearly as relevant for a philosophic theory of knowledge as the pramANa theories of classical thinkers, which were ironed out over generations. Probably intuitions about perception or inference or testimony as possibly erroneous would emerge in the course of contemporary interviews, and indeed one can find non-factive usages in the epics and elsewhere in Sanskrit literature. But, to speak about NyAya, philosophers had their intuitions shaped by a theoretical inheritance upon which they then built, intuitions that came to restrict an understanding of genuine perception, inference, and testimony to that which is true. A contemporary theory of knowledge needs to heed such educated intuitions if it is not to be hopelessly ethnocentric but not the uneducated intuitions reported by anthropologists.

Perhaps readers who have read the article (I have not yet) might have something to add to this discussion?