From the invaluable PhilPapers, I discovered a very intriguing paper, “Feedback from Moral Philosophy to Cognitive Science“, by Regina Rini that is forthcoming in Philosophical Psychology.
Here is the abstract:
A popular argument form uses general theories of cognitive architecture to motivate conclusions about the nature of moral cognition. This paper highlights the possibility for modus tollens reversal of this argument form. If theories of cognitive architecture generate predictions for moral cognition, then tests of moral thinking provide feedback to cognitive science. In certain circumstances, philosophers’ introspective attention to their own moral deliberations can provide unique data for these tests. Recognizing the possibility for this sort of feedback helps to illuminate a deep continuity between the disciplines.
Our project mainly aims to use cognitive science to illuminate philosophical aesthetics. However, Rini’s paper suggests that the influence can go the other way as well — in our case, it would be from philosophical aesthetics to aesthetic psychology. The core idea, applied to aesthetics instead of ethics, is that aestheticians’ introspective reports of their own thought processes constitute a unique and underexplored kind of data that can help us to better understand aesthetic psychology. In turn, the better understanding of aesthetic psychology can then help us to settle ongoing debates in cognitive architecture.
One assumption in Rini’s proposal that I remain skeptical of is the idea that philosophers can be expert introspectors with respect to narrow and specific hypotheses (p. 6-8 in the onlinefirst version). Nevertheless, Rini’s paper has convinced me that, given the potential payoff, it is not a possibility that can be safely ignored.