Volume 31, 2007
Philosophy and the Empirical
Render Unto Philosophy that Which Is Philosophy's
To begin with the obvious, both philosophers and empirical scientists in various fields are interested in learning about the mind and mental states. That the philosophical task is different from the scientific task was once taken for granted. It has become increasingly more common, however, to hear philosophers of mind suggesting some sort of "partnership" between philosophy and cognitive science. There is no bright line separating philosophy and science, the argument goes. Each field, it is said, can learn from the other. These suggested partnerships have always struck me as shaky at best—bewildering at worst. In this paper I want to defend the traditional separation of philosophical and empirical questions. I want to urge that we render unto cognitive science its empirical investigation, while we render unto philosophy the fundamental epistemological and ontological questions that empirical science never will and never could answer.