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Intuitions, Common Sense, and “Earning the Right” to Judgments about Philosophy

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“Intuitions and common sense are not, I claim, a good basis on which to reach philosophical conclusions.” Those are the words of Michael Della Rocca (Yale) in a recent interview at 3:16AM. Ellsworth Kelly, “Green White” Professor Della Rocca has done a lot of work on the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), “the principle according to which there are no brute facts that obtain or no things that exist without an explanation. That is, each thing or each fact has an explanation,” and much of the interview concerns what he takes to be its implications, particularly a kind of Parmenidean monism. He says: This PSR-driven rejection of distinctions and of relations threatens some of what I call the struts of analytical philosophy: the method of intuition, realism, and discreteness. “The method of intuition” is my catch-all term for the method whereby analytical philosophers (especially) consult a magical faculty of intuition or invoke common sense, however that much abused term is understood. (It’s important to note that the appeal to common sense and the appeal to intuition are not the same). Realism is a view according to which the world is in general not dependent on our ways of thinking about it. This is roughly what Ted Sider calls “knee-jerk realism.” Discreteness is the view that reality consists of loose and separate items. And the PSR-driven monism or Parmenideanism with regard to meaning also brings down the distinction between philosophy and the study of its history. The principled rejection of this distinction is one of the most important upshots of my work in this Parmenidean, rationalist vein. Interviewer Richard Marshall asks, “So can you summarise where we are—or should be—with regard to the use of intuition in philosophy? Are most of the leading contemporary philosophers making an error by using it?” Della Rocca replies: Intuitions and common sense are not, I claim, a good basis on which to reach. . .

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News source: Daily Nous

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