On Gender and Philosophical Intuition: Failure of Replication and Other Negative Results
31 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2012 Last revised: 24 Mar 2014
Date Written: October 24, 2012
In their paper of 2011 titled Gender and Philosophical Intuition Wesley Buckwalter and Stephen Stich argue that the intuitions of women and men differ significantly on various types of philosophical questions. Furthermore, men’s intuitions, so the authors, are more in line with traditionally accepted solutions of classical problems. This inherent bias, so the argument, is one of the factors that leads more men than women to pursue degrees and careers in philosophy.
We attempted to replicate three of the classes of questions that Buckwalter and Stich review in their paper and for which they report significant differences. We failed to replicate the results. In specific we attempted replication of Section 3.2 and 3.8 in Buckwalter and Stich (2011). Additionally, in Section 3.1 of their paper Buckwalter and Stich report differences for a Gettier type thought experiment. We had collected data on four Gettier style scenarios and analyzed these for differences between women and men. Here, again, we could not detect a difference. Given our results, we do not believe that the outcomes of Sections 3.1, 3.2 and 3.8 reported in Buckwalter and Stich (2011) are robust and more data is needed to make stronger claims on a gender difference on these classes of scenarios.
In addition to the strict replication, we also wanted to test the scenarios on a different sample of participants. For their data Buckwalter and Stich only include individuals who had not taken any philosophy courses. The reason for this selection is that Buckwalter and Stich wanted to examine individuals who had not been biased by previous study of the cases. However, this way Buckwalter and Stich tested samples of individuals who either never had an interest or possibility to pursue philosophy as a career. Given the discussion of their paper about who enters academic philosophy, this sample is not quite adequate. Hence, we collected data on how many philosophy courses participants had taken and whether they had seen the scenarios before. This way we could analyze individuals who were interested enough to at least have taken some philosophy courses but who had not been biased by direct exposure of the scenarios. For this sample, again, there was no significant difference between men and women.
Keywords: Gender, Philosophy, Gender Disparity, Intuitions, Philosophical Education, Replication
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