Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effects of Reflective Reasoning on Philosophical Dilemmas


Reasoning and reflective thought are critical to the study and practice of philosophy. However, findings from social cognition have challenged the extent to which many decisions are driven by explicit reasoning. We report an experiment that examines how reflective thinking impacts subjects’ judgements on various philosophical topics. Subjects were presented various scenarios on common philosophical topics (e.g., mind-body dualism); each scenario stated a given position. Some subjects were asked to indicate the extent to which they endorsed these positions (control), whereas others were asked to engage in a reflective thinking task before making this choice. Our results revealed that the reflective thinking group was more skeptical of the scenarios’ stated positions than the control group, but this effect depended on the topic of the scenarios. Thus, reflective thinking and reasoning do indeed seem to impact philosophical judgments, but this effect seems to depend on the topic under consideration.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View