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Anthony Robert Booth and Darrell P. Rowbottom

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609192

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609192.001.0001

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Moderate Intuitionism

Moderate Intuitionism

A Metasemantic Account

(p.68) 4 Moderate Intuitionism

Michael Johnson

Oxford University Press

Recent empirical work suggests that intuitions may be less reliable than previously assumed. However, given the ubiquity of intuition in philosophical reasoning, it is tempting to give intuitions some evidential weight. This chapter develops an account called ‘moderate intuitionism’, a view whereby intuitions are generally reliable, but nonetheless capable of substantial degrees of error. Believing that the general reliability of intuition emerges from the nature of language, the chapter develops an outline for a disposition-based metasemantic theory which can ground the link between intuition and truth: terms refer to whatever a speaker would be disposed to apply them to when in possession of all relevant information. Well-constructed thought experiments can elicit intuitions and generally reflect the semantic facts but this account can also explain why intuitions occasionally err — i.e. when a thought experiment fails to specify information that would influence the speaker’s dispositions.

Keywords:   metasemantics, moderate intuitionism, philosophical reasoning, experimental philosophy

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