Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fear, Love, and Experimental Philosophy

JMH asks,

Why do people fear the unknown?
Humans are amazing in this way. We will fight change even when it would benefit us. While I generally do not buy into a lot of the larger claims of evolutionary psychology, I do think that this is the fear of the unknown is a result of our biology. Anyone who has ever set foot in a classroom know how territorial we are. Marketers know perfectly well about the strength of brand loyalty. We are creatures of habit and that which breaks our habits worries us. The fear of the unknown is so widespread that I think it is programmed. I will not try to create a hypothetical made-up history which posits a possible advantage for the fear -- that's exactly what I think is problematic in some of the evolutionary psychology that gets floated -- but it does seem biological in nature.

71 asks,
do you think x-phi [experimental philosophy] is a worthwhile endeavor? if so, is it a philosophical endeavor? can it help to shed light on some of the really tough philosophical problems, or are the basic assumptions it's working with problematic? and, finally, what do you think of the flaming armchair?
We just happen to have an expert on this on the playground...jeff.maynes?

The way philosophy generally works is that we come up with a hard question, figure out what our intuition is, and then try to come up with an account to justify our intuitions. It turns out that some of these intuitions are about things we can test or at least we can test how widely these intuitions are shared. It will be interesting to see how far this goes. It clearly links into neuroscience and there is always the temptation to be reductionist. Sometimes it is warranted, other times not, but I think it will make at least as many new philosophical questions as it will answer longstanding issues.

Hanno asks
How many song lines from any song do you know that contain "Love is x" where x is a placeholder for any term or phrase that makes the sentence complete? Give as many examples as you can. Band name a bonus.
Love is all you need, Love is in the air, Love is all around,... Others?