Jane Addams as experimental philosopher
This paper argues that the activist, feminist and pragmatist Jane Addams (1860–1935) was an experimental philosopher. To defend this claim, I argue for capacious notions of both philosophical pragmatism and experimental philosophy. I begin in Section 2 with a new defence of Rose and Danks’ [‘In Defense of a Broad Conception of Experimental Philosophy’. Metaphilosophy 44, no. 4 (2013): 512–32] argument in favour of a broad conception of experimental philosophy. Koopman [‘Pragmatist Resources for Experimental Philosophy: Inquiry in Place of Intuition’. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 26, no. 1 (2012): 1–24] argues that many twentieth-century American pragmatists (e.g. Peirce, James, Dewey) can make important contributions to contemporary experimental philosophy. In Section 3, I argue that while this may be true, it is also true that under the broad conception, many of the pragmatists just were experimental philosophers. In Section 4, I argue that as a pragmatist philosopher in her own right, Jane Addams also fits the bill of an experimental philosopher, broadly construed. My central argument is that working at Hull House rather than the University of Chicago is no reason to think Addams’ methods any less rigorous or empirical, nor the problems she addressed any less philosophical. I conclude by responding to potential objections to my even broader conception of experimental philosophy, and I briefly consider how my arguments might inform contemporary feminist criticisms of experimental philosophy.
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