Research On The Leading Edge

Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds
Edourd Machery, Distinguished Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh
Wednesday, March 27, 3:30 P.M.
Hall Center for the Humanities

The Hall Center will provide free copies of Machery’s book, Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds, in advance, to be read prior to the event by KU faculty and graduate students who wish to participate. Please RSVP to this event by March 15 at to confirm that you wish to attend and would like a copy of the book.

In Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds, Edouard Machery argues that resolving many traditional and contemporary philosophical issues is beyond our epistemic reach and that philosophy should re-orient itself toward more humble, but ultimately more important intellectual endeavors. The book assesses the main philosophical method for acquiring the knowledge that the resolution of these traditional and contemporary philosophical issues turns on: the use of thought experiments in philosophy. Canvassing the extensive work done by experimental philosophers over the last 15 years, Edouard Machery shows that thought experiments are an extremely unreliable method for gaining knowledge. Importantly, the dismissal of the incriminated traditional and contemporary philosophical issues is no cause for despair - many important philosophical issues remain within our epistemic reach. In particular, reorienting the course of philosophy would free time and resources for bringing back to prominence a once-central intellectual endeavor: conceptual analysis and engineering.

In addition to philosophers, Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds should be of interest to behavioral scientists because of the importance of behavioral methods in experimental philosophy. Anthropologists and specialists of non-Western societies (comparative philosophers, global historians, etc.) will be interested by the importance of cultural diversity in this criticism of the methods dominant of contemporary Western philosophy. The defense of conceptual analysis and conceptual engineering will resonate both with scientists (including those working in the so-called hard sciences) and with humanists interested in the creation of new forms of thoughts.

This workshop is part of the Hall Center’s Research on the Leading Edge program, which brings visiting scholars to campus who have published, or who are working upon, research that is boundary shifting within the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

No formal presentation will be given by the guest scholar. A panel of KU faculty members will critique the book prior to the author’s response, followed by a general discussion. This session’s panelists are: John Symons (Philosophy), Anna Neill (English), and Chris Crandall (Psychology).

Upcoming Hall Center Events