What do most philosophers believe? Are most philosophers atheists, or theists? Do they lean toward Platonism or nominalism? Do they lean toward externalist or internalist epistemic justification?
David Bourget and David Chalmers have released the results of the largest survey of professional philosophers ever conducted. There were 931 respondents from 99 leading philosophy departments around the world.1
59% compatibilism (usually a rejection of contra-causal free will)
12.2% no free will
56.3% moral realism
27.7% moral anti-realism
25.8% non-naturalism (but not necessarily supernaturalism)
75% scientific realism
11.6% scientific anti-realism
26.3% B-Theory of time
15.4% A-Theory of time
So, on these issues at least, how do the beliefs of Luke the Common Sense Atheist compare to the current philosophical consensus? As it turns out, I agree with the philosophical consensus in every case.
I’m an atheist, obviously. I’m a compatibilist (I don’t believe in contra-causal free will but obviously we have voluntaristic free will), even though I think the term “compatibilism” is a bit misleading. I’m a moral realist. I’m a naturalist. I’m a scientific realist. I’m not sure whether I accept the B-Theory or something “other,” but mostly I just reject the A-Theory, as the vast majority of philosophers do. (Rejecting the A-Theory of time, by the way, kills the Kalam Cosmological Argument.)
So, for those who think my views are extreme, well… they are extreme for the uneducated masses, but they are totally mainstream in the philosophical community. And I’ll bet if they gave the same survey to the scientific community, the results would be similar.
I don’t think holding a majority view entitles one to ignore the burden of proof. For example, most philosophers are moral realists, but I think moral realism carries the burden of proof.
Still, I’d like to hear from those those who defend libertarian free will or the A-Theory of time or non-naturalism or theism: why do you reject the philosophical consensus?
- There were many other faculty, student, and unaffiliated respondents, but my summary below concerns only those 931 leading philosophers that responded. [↩]