Secular Right | Reality & Reason

TAG | constructivism

Dec/08

7

The wages of reason

Just to be clear, I support the program of experimental philosophy.  Some of the arguments on this weblog have seen me be extremely dismissive of reason. If one is not ambitious, and keeps the chain of propositions suitably modest, there is certainly much utility in the use of reason.  But if you read a book like Experiments in Ethics you see that there is much empirical data which confirms that the verbal arguments of extremely intelligent philosophers do not capture the generality of the human condition & cognition.  Philosophy has ceded to natural science much of its ancient ground, and the intuitions and rationales of the savants of yore have been found wanting.   Induction tells us therefore to be suitably skeptical of the contemporary confidence and certitude of some philosophers who survey the domains left to their discipline.  Grand system building in the physical sciences have yielded us the age of affluence, while in social and humane domains it has by and large resulted in folly. That is why I am sympathetic to the position that we should do what has worked in the past in preference to what we think should work in the future.

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