Just In: Deontology, Consequentialism, and Virtue Ethics in Dead Heat

November 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm (By Theo Boehm)

Yes, this new poll of philosophers reveals a surprising diversity of opinion, although skewed in directions you might imagine. The survey was done by philpapers, and is described on the home page of the project this way:

The PhilPapers Survey was a survey of professional philosophers and others on their philosophical views, carried out in November 2009. The Survey was taken by 3226 respondents, including 1803 philosophy faculty members and/or PhDs and 829 philosophy graduate students.

It’s nice to see a number of topics included that we often kick around in our own, strictly amateur way. From what I gather, realpc is outnumbered but not alone in her opinions among philosophers, while the rest of us could learn a thing or two about epistemology and ontology (not to mention zombies) from a quick glance at the survey.


  1. realpc said,

    73% are atheists? I wonder what they mean by “atheist” exactly.

  2. realpc920 said,

    I have noticed that the word “atheist” does not have any simple definition. Some atheists mean that they don’t believe in God as described in the Judeo-Christian bibles. They might never have learned about any other religions, so they take for granted that the word “god” refers to that particular idea of god. Some of them dislike the idea of a god who is angry, jealous and punishing, like Yahweh, and that forms part of their argument against religion.

    I think that is a very narrow definition of god and atheism, and I think an atheist should really be defined as someone who disbelieves in the possible existence of beings on dimensional levels higher than our own.

    And what, I would like to know, is the scientific basis for that disbelief? The survey shows that 73% of philosophers are atheists. That is a lot. And you would not expect a philosopher to have a narrow uneducated definition of the concept of god or gods.

    So what is causing such a large majority of philosophers, the professional thinkers, to be atheists? It must be the idea that modern science is somehow at odds with the idea of super-physical, or higher-dimensional intelligence.

    And why would that be the case? It has been the central question of my life. And the only conclusion I have reached so far is that western educated people like to separate themselves from the great masses of humanity who do believe in super-physical, universal, intelligence.

    My conclusion is that atheism is tribal, not rational. And the same for many other deeply held cherished beliefs. Co-members of a tribe can recognize each other and exchange knowing looks. They can feel they have the big answers, while the vast ignorant hordes grope in darkness.

    Can anyone give me one single scientific reason for disbelieving in the possible existence of super-physical intelligence? I know that you can’t, because I have searched and searched and never found one.

    So of course you will say it’s up to me to show scientific evidence for my beliefs, not your problem to show evidence against. You disbelieve in god simply because no one has shown solid scientific evidence for god. You haven’t seen or heard or felt the presence of anything resembling what people call god, so therefore you don’t believe there is any such thing.

    Well suppose I went to China and came back and told you there is such a place. You might believe me or you might not. What if millions of people went to China and came back and told you about it? Maybe then you would believe, or maybe not. Maybe you would have to see China for yourself to believe in it.

    By that reasoning, you can’t believe anything you did not experience first hand. That is not a practical way to live. And besides, even if it sometimes justifies a lack of certainty, in never justifies complete disbelief.

    Anyhow, I really wonder why the percentage of atheists is so high among philosophers. Actually, it’s probably just as high in many other academic fields. I’ve heard it’s very high in psychology and biology.

    I think it’s just tribal. Academics are Smart and they’re Blue, and they never go to church.

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