A metaphilosophy and methodology round-up in four parts:
2. Regular Splintered readers know that Schwitzgebel posts a lot (and well!) on questions like “Do ethicists behave better than the rest of us?” I wonder how best to phrase analogous questions about epistemologists and metaphysicians. How about “Do epistemologists believe better?”? And “Do metaphysicisns have a better grip on reality?”?
3. I love this remark by Denis Des Chenes from a while ago at Leiter Reports:
I must admit that when I read some analytic philosophy (and some history of philosophy too) I ask myself what anyone who wasnâ€™t wholly immersed in the debate would find in it. The standard defense against that sort of jibe … is to say that epistemology or whatever is a specialized discipline that, like physics or mathematics, has good reason to employ its own jargon and that has, as a pursuit, value in its own right; it need not justify its existence to outsiders.
Thatâ€™s all well and good. But physics and mathematics have striking, stable results and notable applications to back up their claims of value. What does metaphysics have to offer? Physicists, moreover, have done a very good job of popularizing even the more esoteric reaches of their scienceâ€”think of Stephen Weinbergâ€™s or Brian Greeneâ€™s books. Is there any popularization of metaphysics as it is done now, or of epistemology, that compares to them? Would we value such a work if someone troubled to write it?
4. Perhaps not the popularization that Des Chenes asks for, but relevant nonetheless, is Timothy Williamson’s manuscript on philosophical methodology available here: [Link to ms]. Spoiler alert! The following is from the penultimate paragraph:
Philosophy has never been done for an extended period according to standards as high as those that are now already available, if only the profession will take them seriously to heart. None of us knows how far we can get by applying them systematically enough for long enough. We can find out only by trying.
Abstraction in Leather and Wood. 2007. Pete Mandik.