Ben Coonley/Experimental Philosophy in 3D

  • Location:
    NYU, The Ground Floor Auditorium at 5 Washington Place, 5 Washington Place, New York, New York, US

Experimental Philosophy is a controversial new movement that involves using experimental studies in search of answers to important philosophical questions. The debate over this emerging interdisciplinary field has been covered in the New York Times, Slate, The Guardian, Scientific American, NPR, the BBC, and elsewhere. For an introduction to Experimental Philosophy, see

Media artist Ben Coonley has directed a series of short videos illustrating three recent experimental philosophy studies. We will screen these videos as part of an interactive event where audience members will be able to talk directly to both the philosophers whose work the videos depict and Coonley himself.

The videos displayed at this event depict philosophical work by Joshua Knobe (Yale University), Jonathan Phillips (Yale University) and Hagop Sarkissian (Baruch College). All three of these philosophers will be taking questions from the audience throughout the event.

The event will include the first public showing of a 3-D video on moral relativism starring singer Amanda Palmer, an ‘interactive’ video about the nature of happiness in which audience members can fill in their own answers, and a very brief video starring comedian Eugene Mirman. This last video can be previewed at:


• Ben Coonley (Assistant Professor, Bard College) is an artist whose work has been exhibited at venues including MoMA PS1’s “Greater New York: Cinema," Performa, the New Museum for Contemporary Art, The Moscow Biennale, and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. In 2010, he was named one of Film Comment’s “21 Leading Lights of Projection Performance.” ARTnews has called him a "new media prankster," adding, "Using the tools of consumer technology—PowerPoint, YouTube, Photoshop—he turns media formats and genres inside out."

• Joshua Knobe (Professor, Yale University) is one of the founders of the experimental philosophy movement and one of its most influential practitioners. He has discussed the topic in articles for the New York Times and Scientific American and is a frequent contributor to Prospect Magazine writes, "It takes most people decades to reach guru status. But Joshua Knobe managed it within a few years of being awarded his PhD in philosophy from Princeton in 2006. He has an infectious excitement for his research."

• Hagop Sarkissian (Assistant Professor, Baruch College) is both an experimental philosopher and an expert on classical Chinese philosophy. Much of his work uses experimental methods to explore ideas from Confucian philosophy.

• Jonathan Phillips (graduate student, Yale University) has conducted experimental studies on the way people think about happiness and freedom. Much of his recent research looks at the way young children think about moral questions.