Sunday, May 2, 2021

Accepting non-classical logic is associated with having had a self-transcendent experience; non-realism regarding aesthetics and morality is associated with having used psychoactive substances such as psychedelics and marijuana

The psychology of philosophy: Associating philosophical views with psychological traits in professional philosophers. David B. Yaden & Derek E. Anderson. Philosophical Psychology, Apr 27 2021.

Abstract: Do psychological traits predict philosophical views? We administered the PhilPapers Survey, created by David Bourget and David Chalmers, which consists of 30 views on central philosophical topics (e.g., epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language) to a sample of professional philosophers (N = 314). We extended the PhilPapers survey to measure a number of psychological traits, such as personality, numeracy, well-being, lifestyle, and life experiences. We also included non-technical ‘translations’ of these views for eventual use in other populations. We found limited to no support for the notion that personality or demographics predict philosophical views. We did, however, find that some psychological traits were predictive of philosophical views, even after strict correction for multiple comparisons. Findings include: higher interest in numeracy predicted physicalism, naturalism, and consequentialism; lower levels of well-being and higher levels of mental illness predicted hard determinism; using substances such as psychedelics and marijuana predicted non-realist and subjectivist views of morality and aesthetics; having had a transformative or self-transcendent experience predicted theism and idealism. We discuss whether or not these empirical results have philosophical implications, while noting that 68% of our sample of professional philosophers indicated that such findings would indeed have philosophical value.


Digest: What Predicts Professional Philosophers’ Views? (updated) | Daily Nous / Justin Weinberg

Some of their results were negative, or findings of a lack of correlation:

  • Age, gender, relationship status, income, ethnicity, professional status yielded no significant findings of correlations with particular philosophical views.
  • None of the five factor model’s list of personality traits (openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) were associated with specific philosophical views.
  • Neither exercise nor meditation were associated with any views.
  • “Anti-naturalism” (a cluster of beliefs including libertarian notions of free will, nonphysicalism about the mind, belief in God, non-naturalism, belief in the metaphysical possibility of philosophical Zombies, and the further fact view of personal identity) is largely unassociated with particular personality traits or well-being.

But they did find some positive correlations:

  • Theism is associated with agreeableness.
  • Hard determinism is associated with lower life satisfaction and higher depression/anxiety.
  • Consequentialism, realism, physicalism, and correspondence theories of truth are associated with more numerical interest
  • Believing philosophical zombies are metaphysically possible is associated with conscientiousness
  • Theism and idealism are associated with having had a transformative or self-transcendent experience.
  • Accepting non-classical logic is associated with having had a self-transcendent experience.
  • Non-realism regarding aesthetics and morality is associated with having used psychoactive substances such as psychedelics and marijuana.
  • Contextualism about knowledge claims is associated with supporting more public education about philosophy
  • Naturalism is associated with the notion that projects such as this one by Yaden and Anderson have philosophical value

The authors also found evidence of correlations between being an analytic philosopher and supporting certain philosophical views, such as the correspondence theory of truth, realism about the external world, invariantism about knowledge claims, scientific realism, and that one ought to pull the switch (sacrifice one person to save five others) in the bystander part of the trolley problem.

Additionally, they found that being more politically right-leaning was associated with several philosophical views, such as theism, free will libertarianism, nonphysicalist views in philosophy of mind, and the correspondence theory of truth.

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