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Comments on the Survey

Image result for philosophers

That is the cliched "School of Athens" image for a discussion of philosophers, followed by a link to the complete set of questions and data of the survey I excerpted from yesterday.

What strikes me is that there are some questions on which nothing remotely approaching consensus exists -- there are almost as many "nominalists" (or those leaning that way) as there are "Platonists," and a sizeable though smaller proportion of "other."

Likewise on normative ethics "other" is dominant, yet even that catch-all category is a minority. The Big Two -- deontology and teleology -- are closely split for second/third.

Personal identity, too, is a matter of very sharp split, and a matter where "other" wins. Fortunately, the results page (link above) lets one get more granular on "other" when one has a mind to. The most popular "other" answer for Personal Identity is "agnostic/undecided." But there were also philosophers in respectable numbers saying "there is no fact of the matter" as to personal identity -- an answer that just sounds odd to me.

Surely there is SOME fact of the matter??? We do see ourselves as having identity. A philosopher arriving at his university for another work day sees himself as the same fellow who arrived yesterday, and who is entitled to pick up the check that will bear THAT fellow's name. If the official responsible for cutting the check is genuinely that THIS fellow claiming to be the faculty member is a fraud, then he wants to inquire into identity.

So the result of the exercise is that I end up curious why anyone would check "no fact of the matter" for this one. Not a bad result. Good philosophy should try to resolve questions of the sort that only bad philosophy generates, by showing that there is no "fact of the matter." But it shouldn't try to dissolve questions that real life generates! Should one cut the check or not?


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