Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

What Philosophers Believe

with 7 comments

The PhilPapers Survey was a survey of professional philosophers and others on their philosophical views, carried out in November 2009. The Survey was taken by 3226 respondents, including 1803 philosophy faculty members and/or PhDs and 829 philosophy graduate students. This has both a survey and a metasurvey that asked a smaller group to predict the results of the original survey. Shockingly, a full 69% percent of philosophers get the teleporter problem wrong:

Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?

Accept or lean toward: survival 337 / 931 (36.1%)
Other 304 / 931 (32.6%)
Accept or lean toward: death 290 / 931 (31.1%)

The consequentialist approach to the trolley problem turns out to have become hegemonic.

Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): switch or don’t switch?

Accept or lean toward: switch 635 / 931 (68.2%)
Other 225 / 931 (24.1%)
Accept or lean toward: don’t switch 71 / 931 (7.6%)

Also interesting: pluralities believe philosophical zombies are conceivable but not metaphysically possible (I concur) and rejects the terms of Newcomb’s Paradox (not sure what this can mean in practice). 73% are atheists.

All this and more via MeFi.

7 Responses

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  1. […] a comment » Following up on the PhilaPapers survey is this thought experiment from Michael F. Patton, […]

  2. The Trolley Problem is much more interesting when juxtaposed against the Fat Man question. Wish they’d asked that as well.

    Shankar D

    December 9, 2009 at 12:04 pm

  3. They clearly did not survey specialists in philosophy within the literary disciplines.


    December 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm

  4. It’s true, we know what’s what.


    December 10, 2009 at 2:04 pm

  5. still can’t believe people take these things seriously.


    December 10, 2009 at 3:06 pm

  6. Traxus, thought experiments, surveys, or blogs?


    December 10, 2009 at 3:08 pm

  7. commit them all to the flames!


    December 10, 2009 at 5:44 pm

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