In Response to: Philosophy tests

Although I am glad to see philosophy becoming less arcane and more down-to-earth, I have misgivings about the so-called “experimental philosophy” (cover story, May 16). Of course, it is interesting to know how people stand on particular moral issues, and to what extent we behave morally, but this is most unlikely to lead to the discovery of “eternal truths” or “universal insights,” if indeed such exist.

Not only is there a great diversity of opinion, but even deeply held beliefs have changed over time. For thousands of years, most people (including philosophers) saw nothing wrong with slavery. Cultural attitudes toward homosexuality have had their ups and downs, and I can remember when divorce was considered morally reprehensible. Investigating the flux and prevalence of these attitudes is not philosophy. It is social science.

Stephen E. Silver ’58