What percentage of philosophers believe in God?

What percentage of philosophers are theists? How many of them believe in free will? More importantly: how many of them think zombies are actually possible? Finally, a study has provided an answer to all these questions, and more.

Philosophers David Bourget and David Chalmers have conducted a worldwide survey to gauge where members of their field stand on a variety of philosophical topics, including a priori knowledge, moral judgment, free will... and the metaphysical possibility of zombies*.

The Davids distributed their questionnaire to 1,972 philosophers at 99 of the world's "leading departments of philosophy" (in this case, their target group comprised predominantly Ph.D.-granting departments in English speaking countries, giving rise to an acknowledged bias toward analytic or Anglocentric philosophy). The questionnaire consisted of a background survey, 30 multiple choice questions, and a metasurvey that asked philosphers to predict how their colleagues would weigh in. A little under half of the target faculty group completed the survey. Here are their responses:

1. A priori knowledge: yes 71.1%; no 18.4%; other 10.5%.
2. Abstract objects: Platonism 39.3%; nominalism 37.7%; other 23.0%.
3. Aesthetic value: objective 41.0%; subjective 34.5%; other 24.5%.
4. Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes 64.9%; no 27.1%; other 8.1%.
5. Epistemic justification: externalism 42.7%; internalism 26.4%; other 30.8%.
6. External world: non-skeptical realism 81.6%; skepticism 4.8%; idealism 4.3%; other 9.2%.
7. Free will: compatibilism 59.1%; libertarianism 13.7%; no free will 12.2%; other 14.9%.
8. God: atheism 72.8%; theism 14.6%; other 12.6%.
9. Knowledge claims: contextualism 40.1%; invariantism 31.1%; relativism 2.9%; other 25.9%.
10. Knowledge: empiricism 35.0%; rationalism 27.8%; other 37.2%.
11. Laws of nature: non-Humean 57.1%; Humean 24.7%; other 18.2%.
12. Logic: classical 51.6%; non-classical 15.4%; other 33.1%.
13. Mental content: externalism 51.1%; internalism 20.0%; other 28.9%.
14. Meta-ethics: moral realism 56.4%; moral anti-realism 27.7%; other 15.9%.
15. Metaphilosophy: naturalism 49.8%; non-naturalism 25.9%; other 24.3%.
16. Mind: physicalism 56.5%; non-physicalism 27.1%; other 16.4%.
17. Moral judgment: cognitivism 65.7%; non-cognitivism 17.0%; other 17.3%.
18. Moral motivation: internalism 34.9%; externalism 29.8%; other 35.3%.
19. Newcomb’s problem: two boxes 31.4%; one box 21.3%; other 47.4%.
20. Normative ethics: deontology 25.9%; consequentialism 23.6%; virtue ethics 18.2%; other 32.3%.
21. Perceptual experience: representationalism 31.5%; qualia theory 12.2%; disjunctivism 11.0%; sense-datum theory 3.1%; other 42.2%.
22. Personal identity: psychological view 33.6%; biological view 16.9%; further-fact view 12.2%; other 37.3%.
23. Politics: egalitarianism 34.8%; communitarianism 14.3%; libertarianism 9.9%; other 41.0%.
24. Proper names: Millian 34.5%; Fregean 28.7%; other 36.8%.
25. Science: scientific realism 75.1%; scientific anti-realism 11.6%; other 13.3%.
26. Teletransporter: survival 36.2%; death 31.1%; other 32.7%.
27. Time: B-theory 26.3%; A-theory 15.5%; other 58.2%.
28. Trolley problem: switch 68.2%; don’t switch 7.6%; other 24.2%.
29. Truth: correspondence 50.8%; deflationary 24.8%; epistemic 6.9%; other 17.5%.
30. Zombies: conceivable but not metaphysically possible 35.6%; metaphysically possible 23.3%; inconceivable 16.0%; other 25.1%.

So which questions drew the most consensus across a field notorious for its lack of consensus?

A priori knowledge, the analytic-synthetic distinction, non-skeptical realism, compatibilism, atheism, non-Humeanism about laws, cognitivism about moral judgment, classicism about logic, externalism about mental content, scientific realism, and trolley switching all had normalized positive answer rates of around 70% or higher. Bourget and Chalmers note that their metasurvey indicated many of these positions were not expected to be so universally accepted across the philosophers surveyed. According to them, this actually reflects a larger trend that "philosophers as a whole have quite inaccurate beliefs about the distribution of philosophical views in the profession."

The results of the survey, to be published in an upcoming issue of Philosophical Studies, are available free of charge on PhilPapers. Head there for all the details.

*NB: "Zombies," here, refers not to the undead being that you're probably invisioning – at least not explicitly. In philosophy, a zombie is a being that looks like and acts like a human, but lacks conscious experience or sentience. See here for more details.

H/T Sean Carroll!
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