Last month I mentioned a philosophy survey conducted by David Chalmers and David Bourget. Well, the results are in. Take a look and be sure to read the comments.
The greatest consistency among targeted faculty members, professional philosophers all, concerned the external world. 81% accept or lean towards non-skeptical realism. Very roughly, non-skeptical realism is the philosophical understanding that things exist independent of the mind and that it is possible to say something meaningful about them. What in the world is wrong with the other 19% of professional philosophers? How do they get along day to day? Not too surprisingly, the percentage of non-skeptical realists dropped to 56.4% among those with no academic philosophical affiliation. While I’m sure most of these respondents are very thoughtful, amateur status often brings out pure skeptics and antirealists and others who have trouble finding the dinner table on a regular basis. I should know, I’m an amateur. Still, it was hearting to see that the number was still over 50% and that idealism was below 11%. Idealism was 10.7% to be exact. In the light of professional philosopher’s view of the external world, I found it somewhat discouraging that only 49.7% described themselves as naturalists. It is not necessarily logically inconsistent to be a non-skeptical realist and something other than a naturalist but I think it a little weird. To be logical, one must posit extra-natural entities or events. I will note, and this is not part of the survey results, that many but not all theologians are non-skeptical realists but not naturalists.
Brian Leiter has a short analysis of the results. I think this is his most significant observation,
Perhaps more notable [other than the percentage of atheists -des] given journalistic portrayals of the humanities as hotbeds of moral relativism and skepticism is that 56.3% of target faculty are moral realists, while only 27.7% are anti-realists–and among those who work in normative ethics, nearly two-thirds (62.5%) are moral realists!
Take a look. I’m not sure what all this leads to but I do find it abnormally interesting.