Eric Schwitzgebel

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Eric Schwitzgebel is an American professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. His main interests include connections between empirical psychology, philosophy of mind, and the nature of belief, as well as Classical Chinese philosophy. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Alison Gopnik, and John Searle. He runs the online blog The Splintered Mind since 2006.[1][2][3]


Schwitzgebel has written three books and many articles on a wide variety of philosophical and psychological topics.[3]

Empirical analysis of ethicists[edit]

Schwitzgebel has studied the behavior of philosophers, particularly ethicists, using empirical methods. The articles he has published investigate whether ethicists behave more ethically than non-philosophers. In a 2009 study, Schwitzgebel investigated the rate at which ethics books were missing from academic libraries compared to similar philosophy books. The study found that ethics books were in fact missing at higher rates than comparable texts in other disciplines.[4]

Subsequent research has measured the behavior of ethicists at conferences, the perceptions of other philosophers about ethicists, and the self-reported behavior of ethicists.[5][6][7] Schwitzgebel's research did not find that the ethical behavior of ethicists differed from the behavior of professors in other disciplines. In addition, his research found that the moral beliefs of professional philosophers were just as susceptible to being influenced by irrelevant factors as those of non-philosophers.[8] Schwitzgebel has concluded that, "Professional ethicists appear to behave no differently than do non-ethicists of similar social background."[9]

Dispositionalist theory of belief[edit]

Schwitzgebel has defended a highly unorthodox "dispositionalist" account of belief, contrary to the usual "representationalist" theory that sees belief as equal to certain mental representations. According to Schwitzgebel, beliefs should be understood as series of cognitive, behavioral, and conscious tendencies. To substantiate this idea, he proposes a variety of thought experiments and counterexamples trying to demonstrate the inadequacy of the traditional view.[10]

Knowledge about conscious experience[edit]

Schwitzgebel has argued, primarily in his 2011 book, Perplexities of Consciousness, that much of our conscious experience is actually not known or intelligible to us, challenging common perspectives.[11]



  1. ^ "Eric Schwitzgebel". Closer to Truth. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  2. ^ "CPBD 082: Eric Schwitzgebel – The Unreliability of Naive Introspection". commonsenseatheism. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Eric Schwitzgebel".
  4. ^ Schwitzgebel, Eric (December 1, 2009). "Do ethicists steal more books?". Philosophical Psychology. 22 (6): 711–725. doi:10.1080/09515080903409952. ISSN 0951-5089. S2CID 18159436.
  5. ^ Schwitzgebel, Eric; Rust, Joshua; Huang, Linus Ta-Lun; Moore, Alan T.; Coates, Justin (June 1, 2012). "Ethicists' courtesy at philosophy conferences". Philosophical Psychology. 25 (3): 331–340. doi:10.1080/09515089.2011.580524. ISSN 0951-5089. S2CID 58906717.
  6. ^ Schwitzgebel, Eric (2009). "The Moral Behaviour of Ethicists: Peer Opinion". MIND. 118 (472): 1043–1059. doi:10.1093/mind/fzp108 – via Oxford Academic.
  7. ^ Sytsma, Justin; Buckwalter, Wesley, eds. (2016). A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. doi:10.1002/9781118661666. ISBN 9781118661666.
  8. ^ Schwitzgebel, Eric; Cushman, Fiery (2012). "Expertise in Moral Reasoning? Order Effects on Moral Judgment in Professional Philosophers and Non-Philosophers". Mind & Language. 27 (2): 135–153. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0017.2012.01438.x. ISSN 1468-0017.
  9. ^ Schwitzgebel, Eric (2014), Luetge, Christoph; Rusch, Hannes; Uhl, Matthias (eds.), "The Moral Behavior of Ethicists and the Role of the Philosopher", Experimental Ethics: Toward an Empirical Moral Philosophy, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 59–64, doi:10.1057/9781137409805_5, ISBN 978-1-137-40980-5, retrieved June 26, 2021
  10. ^ "The Splintered Mind". Retrieved March 24, 2024.
  11. ^ Humphrey, Nicholas (July 29, 2011). "Know Thyself: Easier Said Than Done".

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