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Challenges of Experimental Philosophy

Experimental philosophy is defined as the process of bringing empirical studies to the philosophical problems. Empirical studies includes the use of survey, reasonings, statistical analysis, graph interpretation, data comparison and logical findings. Experimental philosophy could bring truth to various dubious concepts. It spreads lights to the world of non-believers and doubtful characters. Despite having its positive role, it is coming with several challenges that could not be ignored. Before coming to challenges, let’s mark a difference between philosophical analysis and experimental findings, so as to make a clear understanding of the concepts to which experimental philosophy could be applied.

Philosophical AnalysisExperimental findings
It is QualitativeIt is quantitative
It is SubjectiveIt is objective
It involves theoretical approachIt involves practical approach
It has assumptions.It has hypothesis
It generally uses grammatical rules.It uses statistical and operative rules
Consistency is not neededConsistency is must

In this way, we must know that the subject matter of Experimental philosophy must be observational or critical and not thought experiment or intuition. Let’s now come straight to the challenges which are as follows:-

  1. Philosophy is basically developed ideas. To experiment upon the developed ideas, we may need the counter ideas or source ideas in respect to prior one. For example, if we want to experiment on the Bob’s habit of killing. Then, we must know that the habit was generated because Bob likes killing. To experiment upon the concept of God’s existence would be difficult because of its lack of source knowledge or knowledge of any counter arguments related to it.
  2. To experiment on superstitions, biased beliefs, and unproven theology would not be possible.
  3. The experiments to claim truth or falsity of religious ideologies could hurt sentiments and bring disputes.
  4. It is not feasible to experiment upon the attitudes, mindsets, and characters of a person. For example- Bob’s changing attitudes towards the various genre of film. The changing attitudes could depend on film stories, character, sounds, visuals, dialogues, etc.
  5. The phenomenon or thing which is recurring abruptly would be difficult to perform experiment upon. For example -dreams, hallucinations, visuals, imaginations.
  6. Philosophical analysis or report of future unpredictable events could make sense. But the experiments on future phenomenon would not be worthy. It is because future predictions are most liable to be true or false. For example, we could not experiment on the fact that God would appear some day.
  7. To experiment upon the concept of self would be challenging.
  8. Abstract concepts are the feelings, attributes, freedom, love, hatred, good, moral, democracy, success, etc. To conduct experiment on such concepts is very difficult and impossible to gain consistency.
  9. To experiment upon analytical statements of philosophy is wrong because it is self-explanatory and has no informative value.
  10. To experiment on the metaphysical questions would be challenging. For example, What sorts of things are real vs. mere appearances? Are there mathematical objects? Are the immaterial souls? What is the origin and structure of the things that are real?

By looking at all these challenges of Experimental philosophy, it becomes necessary to redefine the advantages of experimental philosophy in giving meaning to various concepts of life. Experimental philosophy is useful for the concept or phenomenon which is universal, structured, follows pattern, and has repeated occurrences. But to Experiment upon some phenomenon which is undefined and vague would be absurd.

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