Intuitions are not Inclinations to Believe

I am working on a response paper to a Phil Studies paper by Joshua Earlenbaugh and Bernard Molyneux(henceforth, E & M). Their paper is found here.

In “Intuitions are Inclinations to Believe” E & M argue intuitions do not play an evidential role. This thesis targets a particular dialectic. E & M recognize a false presupposition in the debate over whether intuitions should or should not play an evidential role. The false presupposition is that intuitions play an evidential role. Against this assumption E & M argue that intuitions do not in fact play an evidential role. They argue for this claim irrespective of whether or not intuitions should play such a role. Intuition-proponents claim intuitions are evidence, so they should play an evidential role. Intuition-opponents claim intuitions are not evidence, so they should not play an evidential role. Assumed within this dialectic is the idea that intuitions play an evidential role. Negating this assumption E & M appear to be putting forward a dialectic-changing thesis.[1] E & M’s thesis promises to generate new lines of research, overcome an exhausted debate that seems to run in circles, and better systematize the data of why intuitions appear to be used as evidence in philosophy but actually fail to be used as such. In my paper “Intuitions are not Inclinations to Believe” I argue against E & M’s thesis at length.

In this post, I propose a truncated argument against E & M’s overall thesis, an argument which is not found in my paper. Consider:

  1. Intuitions cannot play an evidential role (ER) in philosophical inquiry (E & M’s 1st thesis).
  2. A non-evidential view explains why intuitions seem to play an ER even though they do not (E & M’s 2nd thesis).
  3. It is possible to argue intuitions do not play an ER irrespective of whether they should or should not play an ER (E & M assumption).
  4. Philosophers think intuitions should or should not play an ER in relation to the evidential status (ES) of intuitions.[2]
  5. E & M argue intuitions cannot play an ER by arguing intuitions are not-E (1 & 2). [3]
  6. Thus, it is not possible to argue intuitions do not play an ER irrespective of whether they should or should not play an ER (~3).

Is this a viable argument against E & M’s position? At first glance, it seems to undercut E & M’s method of argument without getting into the details of their proposal. I address the details of their proposal in my paper.


[1] This highlights the importance of arguing against E & M’s thesis. If it cannot be successfully defeated, whole modes of inquiry in philosophy need to be reevaluated or abandoned as futile.

[2] Philosophers argue intuitions should play an ER because they’re E or intuitions should not play and ER because they’re not-E.

[3] E & M must argue intuitions are not playing an ER and they’re not-E. If they said intuitions are not-ER and did not argue intuitions are not-E their position could be the inert view (not-ER, but E). This is a view E & M want to avoid. The move they do make takes a stand on the epistemic status of intuitions, namely, they have a negative ES (they’re not-E).

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