Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Integrating Intelligence

Today Ken Walton defined the philosophical enterprise in what seems to me to be the best way:

"Philosophy is a matter of theory construction. Philosophical theories are empirical theories. It is not asurprise, then, that empirical research is of philosophical relevance."

I happen to agree with Walton's view wholeheartedly. That is why I always have a feeling of frustration when I see philosophers having a hard time constructing incredibly complex (and sometimes just incredible) theories to resolve "philosophical puzzles" without paying any attention whatsoever to empirical research. This negligent phenomenon happens repeatedly for philosophical theories of language and mind that blatantly ignore the data collected by cognitive psychologists and psycholinguists.

I always feel "terrified" by this negligence. That is why I find Mr. Obama's remarks (on the intelligence mistakes that gave place to the recent failed terrorist attack) to be absolutely on topic:

“This was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”

That's what I feel about longstanding philosophical conundrums: that they are still unresolved is not owed to a lack of data collection, but of intelligence integration.