The "Experimental Philosophy Meets Conceptual Analysis" last week was a lot of fun -- one of the most stimulating conferences I've been to for some time. I've posted photos, and the Powerpoint for my wrap-up talk "X-Phi Meets A-Phi" (some of which is summarized below). Here the A stands for "armchair" or "a priori", as you please. See the experimental philosophy page and the experimental philosophy blog for some background on the issues, and see also Alex Plakias's conference recap on the Go Grue blog.
The conference had something of a tag-team wrestling format, alternating X-Phi speakers (in the 'red corner") with A-Phi speakers (in the blue corner). The X-Phi speakers were Steve Stich (with a nice overview of his work on disagreement over the intuitions that analytic philosophers often appeal to, in epistemology, the philosophy of language, and ethics), Josh Knobe (who outlined experimental work on people's intuitions about consciousness, suggesting that they're willing to ascribe nonphenomenal states much more freely than phenomenal states), John Doris (who used empirical work on the role of social processes in moral thinking to support a socially-extended view of cognition), Alex Plakias (on empirical work on moral disagreement) and Adina Roskies (on the implications of acquired sociopathy for moral internalism). The A-Phi speakers were Frank Jackson (on conceptual analysis as a kind of experimental philosophy), Michael Smith (on pure and applied conceptual analysis, responding to various aspects of the X-Phi critique), Farid Masrour (on the relevance of the distinction between prima facie and ideal intuitions), Jeanette Kennett (who responded to Adina on empirical arguments against internalism), and, I suppose, me.
In the end there was a lot more agreement than disagreement, though there were certainly some contentious issues along the way. Given the emphasis on conceptual analysis, it's not surprising that different concepts of experimental philosophy were distinguished. For a start, one needs to distinguish experimental philosophy from empirical philosophy simpliciter, where the key distinction is the focus on data about philosophically relevant intuitions and judgments. Farid also usefully distinguished "positive" from "negative" experimental philosophy. The former, typified by Josh Knobe's work on intentional action, tries to find interesting patterns in people's application of concepts to cases, drawing out conclusions about the way those concepts work. The latter, typified by the work of Steve Stich and colleagues on Getter and Kripke intuitions, tries to find cross-group or cross-cultural differences in philosophically relevant intuitions, with a view to potentially undermining the appeal to these intuitions in traditional philosophy.
We also brought some experimental philosophy to bear on the relationship between experimental philosophy and conceptual analysis. In my talk I presented a series of vignettes ranging from (a) someone asking a number of other people for judgments about intentional action to (b) someone asking one other person for such judgments to (c) someone asking themselves for such judgments, and polled the audience on whether each counts as experimental philosophy, or as conceptual analysis. The numbers slid gradually from (a) to (c), suggesting a pretty strong continuity. The moral is that positive experimental philosophy, at least, seems fairly continuous with conceptual analysis, though with more than one subject and performed in the third-person mode.