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Philosophical temperament

Livengood, J and Sytsma, J and Feltz, A and Scheines, R and Machery, E (2010) Philosophical temperament. Philosophical Psychology, 23 (3). 313 - 330. ISSN 0951-5089

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Many philosophers have worried about what philosophy is. Often they have looked for answers by considering what it is that philosophers do. Given the diversity of topics and methods found in philosophy, however, we propose a different approach. In this article we consider the philosophical temperament, asking an alternative question: what are philosophers like? Our answer is that one important aspect of the philosophical temperament is that philosophers are especially reflective: they are less likely than their peers to embrace what seems obvious without questioning it. This claim is supported by a study of more than 4,000 philosophers and non-philosophers, the results of which indicate that even when we control for overall education level, philosophers tend to be significantly more reflective than their peers. We then illustrate this tendency by considering what we know about the philosophizing of a few prominent philosophers. Recognizing this aspect of the philosophical temperament, it is natural to wonder how philosophers came to be this way: does philosophical training teach reflectivity or do more reflective people tend to gravitate to philosophy? We consider the limitations of our data with respect to this question and suggest that a longitudinal study be conducted. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Livengood, J
Sytsma, J
Feltz, A
Scheines, R
Machery, Emachery@pitt.eduMACHERY
Date: 1 June 2010
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophical Psychology
Volume: 23
Number: 3
Page Range: 313 - 330
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1080/09515089.2010.490941
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0951-5089
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2013 16:18
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 15:59


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