X-Phi: How Can We Use Science to Study Philosophical Questions?

Friday, November 13th 2015 at 6:00 pm
Saturday, November 14th 2015 at 4:00 pm
Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst, NY 14228

Full Program Cost:

$60 Public
$40 Contributing Members
$30 Students (w/ valid ID)
$10 Saturday catered lunch

Friday Night Lecture Only
(put towards cost of full program if attendee decides to attend Saturday):

$10 Public
$5 CFI Contributing Members
$5 Students (w/ valid student ID)

Click here to register!

Experimental Philosophy is an attempt to use empirical methods for investigating questions in philosophy. Unlike in “armchair philosophy,” experimental philosophers conduct experiments, using techniques borrowed from experimental cognitive science, to attempt to inform philosophical inquiry. In x-phi, we gather data from surveys and questionnaires to answer or inform philosophical inquiry into things like free will, relativism and other moral issues, intentionality, and consciousness, among others. In this workshop, we will explore the meaning of “x-phi,” look at some of its successes and shortcomings, examine its methods and conduct an experiment or two. Learn about this growing field from some of today’s leaders in x-phi, including Joshua Knobe of Yale, James Beebe, University at Buffalo, and Wesley Buckwalter of the University of Waterloo. Beginning with a keynote session on Friday, Nov. 13, and in workshops lasting all day Saturday Nov. 14, this intensive short course will introduce you to x-phi, teach you some of its methods, engage in debate and discussion about its role and use, and explore its relations to naturalism, other sciences, and empiricism.


Friday, November 13

6:00-7:00pm: Keynote lecture Joshua Knobe

7:00-8:00pm: Panel discussion w/ Joshua Knobe, James Beebe, Wesley Buckwalter, audience Q&A

8:00pm: Dinner at restaurant w/ speakers and interested audience members


Saturday, November 14

8:30am: Registration

9:00-10:00am:  "The surprising affects of moral judgment" w/ Joshua Knobe

10:00-11:00am: "Do people think morality is objective or subjective?" w/ James Beebe

11:00-11:15am: Break

11:15-12:15pm: Philosophy of Mind: Are beliefs a matter of choice?" w/ Wesley Buckwalter

 12:30-1:30pm: Lunch & "Brainstorm session" Joshua Knobe, James Beebe, Wesley Buckwalter

1:30-2:30pm: "Biased Assessments of the Knowledge of Bad People." w/ James Beebe

2:30-3:30pm: "Ethics: Are moral responsibilities limited by our abilities?" w/ Wesley Buckwalter

3:30-4:00pm:  "Conclusion, final remarks" w/ Joshua Knobe

4:00pm:  Adjourn

Conference Speakers

Joshua Knobe is a professor of cognitive science and philosophy at Yale University and one of the founding members of the experimental philosophy movement. Much of his research is concerned with the psychology of people's moral judgments. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, Slate, and the BBC.

James Beebe is Associate Professor of philosophy at the University at Buffalo and director of the Experimental Epistemology Research Group at UB. His research and teaching is focused mostly on issues in epistemology (the area of philosophy devoted to debates about knowledge, evidence, and rationality) and moral psychology (the study of how people think about morality).

Wesley Buckwalter is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy and the Philosophical Science Lab at the University of Waterloo. He has published dozens of articles in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science on a wide range of topics including knowledge, belief, assertion, luck, intuition, methodology, functionalism, consciousness, emotion, and fiction, and is co-editor of A Companion to Experimental Philosophy forthcoming from Wiley-Blackwell.