The Role of Qualitative Research in Philosophy

December 6, 2023 - December 8, 2023
Division for Philosophy and Applied Ethics, Linkoping University


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Over the last few decades, philosophers have become increasingly interested in incorporating empirical data into their philosophical work. They not only draw on the results of existing empirical studies, but also conduct their own empirical research—either on their own or in interdisciplinary collaborations. We see this, for instance, in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of medicine, political philosophy, and environmental philosophy, among many other fields. Today, the most prominent approach to this is experimental philosophy, or X-Phi, which typically draws on classical quantitative methods. This workshop, in contrast, considers the relationship between qualitative research methods and philosophy. While there is a growing literature on philosophical contributions to qualitative research (e.g., how philosophical concepts and methods can help to analyze interview data in psychology), philosophers have said comparatively little about the value that qualitative studies have for their own philosophical thinking. Fields like X-Phi have benefited immensely from self-reflective discussions about the integration of quantitative empirical material into philosophy. This workshop provides the opportunity to develop these kinds of self-reflective discussions about the use of qualitative material: How can qualitative studies productively inform or contribute to philosophical discourse and debate? Contributions will consider topics and questions such as:

-       What kinds of qualitative material are philosophically relevant, and for which kinds of philosophical discussions and debates?

-       Does the use of qualitative methods require a certain philosophical framework—such as phenomenology or historical epistemology—or can qualitative methods be fruitful in all kinds of philosophical inquiry?

-       Can the findings of qualitative studies directly support or undermine philosophical claims? If so, how? 

-       What sort of engagement with qualitative work is fruitful for philosophy? And do different ways of engaging qualitative work make different kinds of contributions to philosophy?

-       Does philosophical incorporation of qualitative research amount to epistemic boundary transgression? And, if so, what are the implications for standards of philosophical rigor?

-       What kinds of obstacles hinder the potential influence and use of qualitative research in philosophy?

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November 1, 2023, 9:00am CET

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Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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