Warp, Weft, and Way draws our attention to an upcoming conference, called “Philosophy Meets Cultural Diversity,” at the University of Pittsburgh. Here is a link to the program, which has as its goal “to bring together anthropologists, psychologists, comparative philosophers, and experimental philosophers in order to further our understanding of the similarities and differences in the lay understanding of, on the one hand, knowledge, and, on the other, agency and person across cultures.” The conference runs March 13th and 14th.
Among the exciting lineup is my dissertation chair here at UT-Austin, Stephen Phillips, who will be speaking, as well as our own Anand Vaidya, who is an invited panelist. It’s also nice to see (in relation to my last post with Elisa Freschi) that the conference includes several women philosophers (Miri Albahari, Winnie Sung, Amita Chatterjee, Kaori Karasawa) as well as women from other fields.
I can’t tell whether the conference proceedings will be made available in any form, but in the meantime, for those of us who cannot attend, this is a good place to discuss the conference aims. Below is a description in more detail and a few questions:
Over the last decade, the newly emerging field of “experimental philosophy” has posed a challenge to the claim that professional philosophers’ judgments about philosophically important thought experiments are universal. Rather, in a growing number of studies, it has been shown that people in different cultural groups – Asians and Westerners, males and females, people of high and low socio-economic status, people with different personality types, people of different ages, people with different native languages, etc. – have different intuitions about cases designed to explore what people think about knowledge, morality, free will, consciousness and other important philosophical issues. However, the extent and sources of this variation remain by and large unknown. The goal of this conference is to bring together anthropologists, psychologists, comparative philosophers, and experimental philosophers in order to further our understanding of the similarities and differences in the lay understanding of, on the one hand, knowledge, and, on the other, agency and person across cultures. Furthermore, we hope to sketch new avenues of research for philosophically sophisticated cross-cultural studies of the concepts of knowledge, person, and agency.
- Suppose it were to be empirically demonstrated that intuitions differ in a way that can be mapped to classifications such as those listed above. How would that (or would it) impact your philosophical work?
- To what degree, and in what ways, ought philosophers be seeking out anthropologists, psychologists, and so on, in order to understand “knowledge and agency across cultures”? Do comparative philosophers have an obligation to be up-to-date in current work in sociology, etc. in a way that, say, philosophers of science might with regard to current physics?
- Finally, do you think work in Indian philosophy ought to engage with current work in experimental philosophy? How?