As many of you may have seen on Daily Nous, Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh) and Stephen Stich (Rutgers), along with anthropologist H. Clark Barrett (UCLA) have just been awarded a US$2.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. It will fund a project titled, “The Geography of Philosophy: An Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Exploration of Universality and Diversity in Fundamental Philosophical Concepts.” We have posted about conferences related to this topic before, and both Anand Vaidya and I have been involved in some of them (most recently, for me, at least, the International Conference on Ethno-Epistemology, Kanazawa, Japan in 2016).
It will be interesting to see the methodology they pursue and to what extent they make use of experts in (Indian, Chinese, African) philosophy, as contrasted to what analytic philosophers often call “folk intuitions” about concepts like knowledge and truth. A description of their project:
Throughout the history of philosophy, many thinkers have urged that some fundamental philosophical concepts are universal–used by all rational people. Historians and anthropologists have often been skeptical of these claims. Recently, cultural psychologists and experimental philosophers have begun to explore empirically whether fundamental philosophical concepts are shared across cultures. The results of these studies have been fascinating, provocative and equivocal. The goals of this project are (i) to move this exciting endeavor forward by dramatically expanding the methodologies, the range of cultures considered, and the cultural and disciplinary diversity of the investigators engaged in the inquiry; (ii) to motivate and enable researchers around the world to become involved in cross-cultural, interdisciplinary research on philosophical concepts by sponsoring workshops in Africa, Asia and South America where our research teams can interact with scientists and scholars in the region; (iii) to present our findings both in scholarly publications and in an integrated format accessible to non-specialists; (iv) to foster discussion about the implications of the findings for venerable philosophical debates and for practical contemporary issues.