Changing use of formal methods in philosophy: late 2000s vs. late 2010s

Samuel C. Fletcher, Joshua Knobe, Gregory Wheeler, Brian Allan Woodcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Traditionally, logic has been the dominant formal method within philosophy. Are logical methods still dominant today, or have the types of formal methods used in philosophy changed in recent times? To address this question, we coded a sample of philosophy papers from the late 2000s and from the late 2010s for the formal methods they used. The results indicate that (a) the proportion of papers using logical methods remained more or less constant over that time period but (b) the proportion of papers using probabilistic methods was approximately three times higher in the late 2010s than it was in the late 2000s. Further analyses explored this change by looking more closely at specific methods, specific levels of technical engagement, and specific subdisciplines within philosophy. These analyses indicate that the increasing proportion of papers using probabilistic methods was pervasive, not confined to particular probabilistic methods, levels of sophistication, or subdisciplines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14555-14576
Number of pages22
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Digital humanities
  • Formal methods in philosophy
  • Logic
  • Metaphilosophy
  • Philosophical Studies
  • Probability


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