Professor Shaun Nichols has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute Grant to stage an institute on “Experimental Philosophy” on campus in Summer 2012. Professor Ron Mallon of Washington University will co-direct the institute, which will also involve contributions by 13 distinguished consulting faculty from major universities.
The Institute will attract 25 faculty from institutions across the country to study recent developments in the new field of “experimental philosophy,” in which Professor Nichols is internationally prominent. In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest in bringing a new set of tools to bear on traditional philosophical concerns. Experimental philosophy explores philosophical judgments by conducting experiments on people's intuitions about philosophically important concepts. Research in experimental philosophy already spans a wide range of areas of philosophy, including ethics, semantics, metaphysics, the study of consciousness, the philosophy of language and of science, and freedom of the will, and this work has also attracted the attention of a much broader network of philosophers. Experimental philosophy has grown rapidly over the last several years, but evaluating, conducting, and teaching work in experimental philosophy requires skills that are not currently part of normal professional training for philosophers. The proposed institute is designed to enable participants to engage experimental philosophy as teachers, practitioners, and critics.