Alvin Goldman

A ubiquitous feature of philosophical practice is to consult intuitions about merely conceivable cases. Imaginary examples are treated with the same respect and importance as real examples. Cases from the actual world do not have superior evidential power as compared with hypothetical cases. How is this compatible with the notion that the target of philosophical inquiry is the composition of natural phenomena? If philosophers were really investigating what Kornblith specifies, would they treat conceivable and actual examples on a par? Scientists do nothing of the sort. They devote great time and labor into investigating actual-world objects; they construct expensive equipment to perform their investigations. If the job could be done as well by consulting intuitions about imaginary examples, why bother with all this expensive equipment and labor-intensive experiments? Evidently, unless philosophers are either grossly deluded or have magical shortcut that has eluded scientists (neither of which is plausible), their philosophical inquiries must have a different type of target or subject-matter.

Alvin Goldman, ‘Philosophical Intuitions: Their Target, Their Source, and Their Epistemic Status’, Grazer Philosophische Studien, vol. 74 (2007), p. 8