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Summary

Experimental moral philosophy explores issues in ethics using empirical methods, such as surveys to investigate people’s judgments about particular moral issues, brain imagining to examine the neural bases of moral judgment, and behavioral experiments to examine how various factors influence people’s moral behavior.  A significant focus of this interdisciplinary work has been on people’s particular judgments concerning issues such as moral permissibility, moral responsibility, and moral relativism and on the roles of moral reasoning, moral intuitions, and moral emotions in our moral judgments.  Such empirical research can help support or challenge various ethical theories that rely on assumptions about human psychology. 

Key works

Key early works on the roles of reasoning, intuition, and emotion in moral judgment include Greene 2008, Haidt 2001, Cushman et al 2006, and Nichols & Mallon 2006.  Key studies of moral responsibility include Knobe 2003, Nichols & Knobe 2007, Nahmias et al 2005, Cushman 2008, and Young et al 2007

Introductions For an introduction to issues in experimental moral philosophy, see Doris 2010, Knobe et al 2012, and Appiah 2008
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Experimental Philosophy: Folk Morality
  1. Linda Abarbanell & Marc D. Hauser (2010). Mayan Morality: An Exploration of Permissible Harms. Cognition 115 (2):207-224.
    Anthropologists have provided rich field descriptions of the norms and conventions governing behavior and interactions in small-scale societies. Here, we add a further dimension to this work by presenting hypothetical moral dilemmas involving harm, to a small-scale, agrarian Mayan population, with the specific goal of exploring the hypothesis that certain moral principles apply universally. We presented Mayan participants with moral dilemmas translated into their native language, Tseltal. Paralleling several studies carried out with educated subjects living in large-scale, developed nations, the (...)
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  2. Fernando Aguiar, Pablo Brañas-Garza & Luis Miller (2008). Moral Distance in Dictators Games. Judgment and Decision Making 3 (4):344-354.
    We perform an experimental investigation using a dictator game in which individuals must make a moral decision —to give or not to give an amount of money to poor people in the Third World. A questionnaire in which the subjects are asked about the reasons for their decision shows that, at least in this case, moral motivations carry a heavy weight in the decision: the majority of dictators give the money for reasons of a consequentialist nature. Based on the results (...)
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  3. Henrik Ahlenius & Torbjörn Tännsjö (2012). Chinese and Westerners Respond Differently to the Trolley Dilemmas. Journal of Cognition and Culture 12 (3-4):195-201.
    A set of moral problems known as The Trolley Dilemmas was presented to 3000 randomly selected inhabitants of the USA, Russia and China. It is shown that Chinese are significantly less prone to support utility-maximizing alternatives, as compared to the US and Russian respondents. A number of possible explanations, as well as methodological issues pertaining to the field of surveying moral judgment and moral disagreement, are discussed.
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  4. Mark Alicke, Ellen Gordon & David Rose (2012). Hypocrisy: What Counts? Philosophical Psychology (5):1-29.
    Hypocrisy is a multi-faceted concept that has been studied empirically by psychologists and discussed logically by philosophers. In this study, we pose various behavioral scenarios to research participants and ask them to indicate whether the actor in the scenario behaved hypocritically. We assess many of the components that have been considered to be necessary for hypocrisy (e.g., the intent to deceive, self-deception), factors that may or may not be distinguished from hypocrisy (e.g., weakness of will), and factors that may moderate (...)
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  5. Adam J. Arico (2012). Breaking Out of Moral Typecasting. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (3):425-438.
    In their recent paper, Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner offer a model of moral cognition, the “Moral Typecasting” thesis, in which they claim that perceptions of moral agency are inversely related to perceptions of moral patiency. Once we see someone as a moral agent, they claim, we cannot see them as a moral patient (and vice versa). In this paper, I want both to challenge the conception of morality on which the typecasting thesis is fundamentally based and to raise some (...)
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  6. Marcus Arvan (2013). Bad News for Conservatives? Moral Judgments and the Dark Triad Personality Traits: A Correlational Study. Neuroethics 6 (2):307-318.
    This study examined correlations between moral value judgments on a 17-item Moral Intuition Survey (MIS), and participant scores on the Short-D3 “Dark Triad” Personality Inventory—a measure of three related “dark and socially destructive” personality traits: Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy. Five hundred sixty-seven participants (302 male, 257 female, 2 transgendered; median age 28) were recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk and Yale Experiment Month web advertisements. Different responses to MIS items were initially hypothesized to be “conservative” or “liberal” in line with (...)
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  7. Peter Brian Barry (2012). Evil and Moral Psychology. Routledge.
    Preliminary matters -- Appendix to chapter 1: evil and experimental philosophy -- Taxonomies of wickedness -- The structure of evil character -- The content of evil character -- Appendix to chapter 4: evil and social psychology -- Evil and moral responsibility -- Evil and abnormal psychology -- Evil and capital punishment.
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  8. C. Daniel Batson (2008). Moral Masquerades: Experimental Exploration of the Nature of Moral Motivation. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):51-66.
    Why do people act morally – when they do? Moral philosophers and psychologists often assume that acting morally in the absence of incentives or sanctions is a product of a desire to uphold one or another moral principle (e.g., fairness). This form of motivation might be called moral integrity because the goal is to actually be moral. In a series of experiments designed to explore the nature of moral motivation, colleagues and I have found little evidence of moral integrity. We (...)
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  9. James Beebe (2013). Weakness of Will, Reasonability, and Compulsion. Synthese 190 (18):4077-4093.
    Experimental philosophers have recently begun to investigate the folk conception of weakness of will (e.g., Mele in Philos Stud 150:391–404, 2010; May and Holton in Philos Stud 157:341–360, 2012; Beebe forthcoming; Sousa and Mauro forthcoming). Their work has focused primarily on the ways in which akrasia (i.e., acting contrary to one’s better judgment), unreasonable violations of resolutions, and variations in the moral valence of actions modulate folk attributions of weakness of will. A key finding that has emerged from this research (...)
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  10. James Beebe (2010). Moral Relativism in Context. Noûs 44 (4):691-724.
    Consider the following facts about the average, philosophically untrained moral relativist: (1.1) The average moral relativist denies the existence of “absolute moral truths.” (1.2) The average moral relativist often expresses her commitment to moral relativism with slogans like ‘What’s true (or right) for you may not be what’s true (or right) for me’ or ‘What’s true (or right) for your culture may not be what’s true (or right) for my culture.’ (1.3) The average moral relativist endorses relativistic views of morality (...)
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  11. Gunnar Björnsson & Karl Persson (2013). A Unified Empirical Account of Responsibility Judgments. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (3):611-639.
    Skeptical worries about moral responsibility seem to be widely appreciated and deeply felt. To address these worries—if nothing else to show that they are mistaken—theories of moral responsibility need to relate to whatever concept of responsibility underlies the worries. Unfortunately, the nature of that concept has proved hard to pin down. Not only do philosophers have conflicting intuitions; numerous recent empirical studies have suggested that both prosaic responsibility judgments and incompatibilist intuitions among the folk are influenced by a number of (...)
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  12. Gunnar Björnsson & Karl Persson (2009). Judgments of Moral Responsibility – a Unified Account. In [2009] Society for Philosophy and Psychology, 35th Annual Meeting (Bloomington, IN; June 12-14). 326-354.
    Recent work in experimental philosophy shows that folk intuitions about moral responsibility are sensitive to a surprising variety of factors. Whether people take agents to be responsible for their actions in deterministic scenarios depends on whether the deterministic laws are couched in neurological or psychological terms (Nahmias et. al. 2007), on whether actions are described abstractly or concretely, and on how serious moral transgression they seem to represent (Nichols & Knobe 2007). Finally, people are more inclined to hold an agent (...)
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  13. Martin Bruder & Tanyi (2014). Overdemanding Consequentialism? An Experimental Approach. Utilitas 26 (3):250-275.
    According to act-consequentialism the right action is the one that produces the best results as judged from an impersonal perspective. Some claim that this requirement is unreasonably demanding and therefore consequentialism is unacceptable as a moral theory. The article breaks with dominant trends in discussing this so-called Overdemandingness Objection. Instead of focusing on theoretical responses, it empirically investigates whether there exists a widely shared intuition that consequentialist demands are unreasonable. This discussion takes the form of examining what people think about (...)
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  14. C. Daryl Cameron, Joshua Knobe & B. Keith Payne (2010). Do Theories of Implicit Race Bias Change Moral Judgments? Social Justice Research 23:272-289.
    Recent work in social psychology suggests that people harbor “implicit race biases,” biases which can be unconscious or uncontrollable. Because awareness and control have traditionally been deemed necessary for the ascription of moral responsibility, implicit biases present a unique challenge: do we pardon discrimination based on implicit biases because of its unintentional nature, or do we punish discrimination regardless of how it comes about? The present experiments investigated the impact such theories have upon moral judgments about racial discrimination. The results (...)
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  15. Richmond Campbell & Victor Kumar (2012). Moral Reasoning on the Ground. Ethics 122 (2):273-312.
    We present a unified empirical and philosophical account of moral consistency reasoning, a distinctive form of moral reasoning that exposes inconsistencies among moral judgments about concrete cases. Judgments opposed in belief or in emotion and motivation are inconsistent when the cases are similar in morally relevant respects. Moral consistency reasoning, we argue, regularly shapes moral thought and feeling by coordinating two systems described in dual process models of moral cognition. Our empirical explanation of moral change fills a gap in the (...)
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  16. Bryan Church, James C. Gaa, S. M. Khalid Nainar & Mohamed M. Shehata (2005). Experimental Evidence Relating to the Person-Situation Interactionist Model of Ethical Decision Making. Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (3):363-383.
    According to a widely credited model in the business ethics literature, ethical decisions are a function of two kinds of factors, personal(individual) and situational, and these factors interact with each other. According to a contrary view of decision making that is widely held in some areas of business research, individuals’ decisions about ethical issues (and subsequent actions) are purely a function of their self-interest.The laboratory experiment reported in this paper provides a test of the person-situation interactionist model, using the general (...)
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  17. Michelle Ciurria (2014). The Case of Jojo and Our Pretheoretical Intuitions: An Externalist Interpretation. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (2):265-276.
    In their contribution to the Review of philosophy and psychology (19 March 2010), David Faraci and David Shoemaker object to Susan Wolf’s sane deep self view of moral responsibility, which is supposed to accord with our pretheoretical intuitions about deprived childhood victims better than the plain deep-self view. Wolf’s account hinges on the intuitiveness of a particular example, which asks us to consider JoJo, the son of an evil dictator of a small, undeveloped country who grows up to adopt his (...)
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  18. E. T. Cokely & A. Feltz (forthcoming). Virtue in Business: Morally Better, Praiseworthy, Trustworthy, and More Satisfying. Journal of Organizational Moral Psychology.
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  19. Florian Cova, Maxime Bertoux, Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde & Bruno Dubois (2012). Judgments About Moral Responsibility and Determinism in Patients with Behavioural Variant of Frontotemporal Dementia: Still Compatibilists. Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):851-864.
    Do laypeople think that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism? Recently, philosophers and psychologists trying to answer this question have found contradictory results: while some experiments reveal people to have compatibilist intuitions, others suggest that people could in fact be incompatibilist. To account for this contradictory answers, Nichols and Knobe (2007) have advanced a ‘performance error model’ according to which people are genuine incompatibilist that are sometimes biased to give compatibilist answers by emotional reactions. To test for this hypothesis, we (...)
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  20. Florian Cova & Jérôme Ravat (2008). Sens commun et objectivisme moral : Objectivisme "global" ou objectivisme "local" ? Une introduction par l'exemple à la philosophie expérimentale. Klesis 9:180-202.
    Dans cet article, nous proposons de montrer expérimentalement que le "sens commun" n'est en matière moral ni complètement objectiviste ni complètement relativiste, mais qu'un même individu peut être tantôt objectiviste tantôt relativiste. De même, nous montrons que les jugements de goût portant sur le prédicat "dégoûtant" ne sont pas toujours relativiste mais peuvent varier selon le contexte entre objectivisme et relativisme.
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  21. Fiery Cushman (2008). Crime and Punishment: Distinguishing the Roles of Causal and Intentional Analyses in Moral Judgment. Cognition 108 (2):353-380.
    Recent research in moral psychology has attempted to characterize patterns of moral judgments of actions in terms of the causal and intentional properties of those actions. The present study directly compares the roles of consequence, causation, belief and desire in determining moral judgments. Judgments of the wrongness or permissibility of action were found to rely principally on the mental states of an agent, while judgments of blame and punishment are found to rely jointly on mental states and the causal connection (...)
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  22. Fiery Cushman, Joshua Knobe & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (2008). Moral Appraisals Affect Doing/Allowing Judgments. Cognition 108 (2):353-380.
    An extensive body of research suggests that the distinction between doing and allowing plays a critical role in shaping moral appraisals. Here, we report evidence from a pair of experiments suggesting that the converse is also true: moral appraisals affect doing/allowing judgments. Specifically, morally bad behavior is more likely to be construed as actively ‘doing’ than as passively ‘allowing’. This finding adds to a growing list of folk concepts influenced by moral appraisal, including causation and intentional action. We therefore suggest (...)
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  23. Fiery Cushman & Liane Young (2011). Patterns of Moral Judgment Derive From Nonmoral Psychological Representations. Cognitive Science 35 (6):1052-1075.
    Ordinary people often make moral judgments that are consistent with philosophical principles and legal distinctions. For example, they judge killing as worse than letting die, and harm caused as a necessary means to a greater good as worse than harm caused as a side-effect (Cushman, Young, & Hauser, 2006). Are these patterns of judgment produced by mechanisms specific to the moral domain, or do they derive from other psychological domains? We show that the action/omission and means/side-effect distinctions affect nonmoral representations (...)
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  24. Fiery Cushman & Liane Young (2009). The Psychology of Dilemmas and the Philosophy of Morality. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (1):9 - 24.
    We review several instances where cognitive research has identified distinct psychological mechanisms for moral judgment that yield conflicting answers to moral dilemmas. In each of these cases, the conflict between psychological mechanisms is paralleled by prominent philosophical debates between different moral theories. A parsimonious account of this data is that key claims supporting different moral theories ultimately derive from the psychological mechanisms that give rise to moral judgments. If this view is correct, it has some important implications for the practice (...)
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  25. Fiery Cushman, Liane Young & Marc Hauser (2006). The Role of Conscious Reasoning and Intuition in Moral Judgment. Psychological Science 17 (12):1082-1089.
    ��Is moral judgment accomplished by intuition or conscious reasoning? An answer demands a detailed account of the moral principles in question. We investigated three principles that guide moral judgments: (a) Harm caused by action is worse than harm caused by omission, (b) harm intended as the means to a goal is worse than harm foreseen as the side effect of a goal, and (c) harm involving physical contact with the victim is worse than harm involving no physical contact. Asking whether (...)
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  26. Felipe De Brigard, Eric Mandelbaum & David Ripley (2009). Responsibility and the Brain Sciences. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (5):511-524.
    Some theorists think that the more we get to know about the neural underpinnings of our behaviors, the less likely we will be to hold people responsible for their actions. This intuition has driven some to suspect that as neuroscience gains insight into the neurological causes of our actions, people will cease to view others as morally responsible for their actions, thus creating a troubling quandary for our legal system. This paper provides empirical evidence against such intuitions. Particularly, our studies (...)
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  27. Peggy Desautels (2008). Folk Feminist Theory: An Experimental Approach. Hypatia 23 (4):pp. 240-244.
  28. Ezio Di Nucci (forthcoming). Trolleys and Double Effect in Experimental Ethics. In Christoph Luetge, Hannes Rusch & Matthias Uhl (eds.), Experimental Ethics. Palgrave Macmillan.
    I analyse the relationship between the Doctrine of Double Effect and the Trolley Problem: the former offers a solution for the latter only on the premise that killing the one in Bystander at the Switch is permissible. Here I offer both empirical and theoretical arguments against the permissibility of killing the one: firstly, I present data from my own empirical studies according to which the intuition that killing the one is permissible is neither widespread nor stable; secondly, I defend a (...)
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  29. Ezio Di Nucci (2012). Self-Sacrifice and the Trolley Problem. Philosophical Psychology 26 (5):662-672.
    Judith Jarvis Thomson has recently proposed a new argument for the thesis that killing the one in the Trolley Problem is not permissible. Her argument relies on the introduction of a new scenario, in which the bystander may also sacrifice herself to save the five. Thomson argues that those not willing to sacrifice themselves if they could may not kill the one to save the five. Bryce Huebner and Marc Hauser have recently put Thomson's argument to empirical test by asking (...)
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  30. Susan Dwyer, Bryce Huebner & Marc D. Hauser (2010). The Linguistic Analogy: Motivations, Results, and Speculations. Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):486-510.
    Inspired by the success of generative linguistics and transformational grammar, proponents of the linguistic analogy (LA) in moral psychology hypothesize that careful attention to folk-moral judgments is likely to reveal a small set of implicit rules and structures responsible for the ubiquitous and apparently unbounded capacity for making moral judgments. As a theoretical hypothesis, LA thus requires a rich description of the computational structures that underlie mature moral judgments, an account of the acquisition and development of these structures, and an (...)
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  31. David Faraci & David Shoemaker (2010). Insanity, Deep Selves, and Moral Responsibility: The Case of JoJo. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (3): 319-332.
    Susan Wolf objects to the Real Self View (RSV) of moral responsibility that it is insufficient, that even if one’s actions are expressions of one’s deepest or “real” self, one might still not be morally responsible for one’s actions. As a counterexample to the RSV, Wolf offers the case of JoJo, the son of a dictator, who endorses his father’s (evil) values, but who is insane and is thus not responsible for his actions. Wolf’s data for this conclusion derives from (...)
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  32. A. Feltz & E. T. Cokely (2008). The Fragmented Folk: More Evidence of Stable Individual Differences in Moral Judgments and Folk Intuitions. In B. C. Love, K. McRae & V. M. Sloutsky (eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society. 1771--1776.
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  33. Adam Feltz & Edward T. Cokely (2012). The Virtues of Ignorance. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (3):335-350.
    It is commonly claimed that fully virtuous individuals cannot be ignorant and that everyday intuitions support this fact. Others maintain that there are virtues of ignorance and most people recognize them. Both views cannot be correct. We report evidence from three experiments suggesting that ignorance does not rule out folk attributions of virtue. Additionally, results show that many of these judgments can be predicted by one’s emotional stability—a heritable personality trait. We argue that these results are philosophically important for the (...)
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  34. Adam Feltz & Edward T. Cokely (2009). Do Judgments About Freedom and Responsibility Depend on Who You Are? Personality Differences in Intuitions About Compatibilism and Incompatibilism. Consciousness and Cognition 18 (1):342-350.
    Recently, there has been an increased interest in folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility from both philosophers and psychologists. We aim to extend our understanding of folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility using an individual differences approach. Building off previous research suggesting that there are systematic differences in folks’ philosophically relevant intuitions, we present new data indicating that the personality trait extraversion predicts, to a significant extent, those who have compatibilist versus incompatibilist intuitions. We argue that identifying groups (...)
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  35. Alicia Finch (2011). Experimental Philosophy and the Concept of Moral Responsibility. Modern Schoolman 88 (1/2):146-160.
    In recent years, so-called experimental philosophers have argued that participants in the moral responsibility debate ought to adopt a new methodology. In particular, they argue, the results of experimental surveys ought to be introduced into the debate.According to the experimental philosophers, these surveys are philosophically rel- evant because they provide information about the moral responsibility judgments that ordinary people make. Moreover, they argue, an account of moral responsibility is satisfactory only if it is tightly con- nected to ordinary judgments. The (...)
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  36. Simon Fitzpatrick (forthcoming). Distinguishing Between Three Versions of the Doctrine of Double Effect Hypothesis in Moral Psychology. Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-21.
    Based on the results of empirical studies of folk moral judgment, several researchers have claimed that something like the famous Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) may be a fundamental, albeit unconscious, component of human moral psychology. Proponents of this psychological DDE hypothesis have, however, said surprisingly little about how the distinction at the heart of standard formulations of the principle—the distinction between intended and merely foreseen consequences—might be cognised when we make moral judgments about people’s actions. I first highlight the (...)
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  37. E. Garcia, D. R. M. Timmermans & E. van Leeuwen (2009). Reconsidering Prenatal Screening: An Empirical-Ethical Approach to Understand Moral Dilemmas as a Question of Personal Preferences. Journal of Medical Ethics 35 (7):410-414.
    In contrast to most Western countries, routine offer of prenatal screening is considered problematic in the Netherlands. The main argument against offering it to every pregnant woman is that women would be brought into a moral dilemma when deciding whether to use screening or not. This paper explores whether the active offer of a prenatal screening test indeed confronts women with a moral dilemma. A qualitative study was developed, based on a randomised controlled trial that aimed to assess the decision-making (...)
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  38. Chad Gonnerman (2008). Reading Conflicted Minds: An Empirical Follow-Up to Knobe and Roedder. Philosophical Psychology 21 (2):193 – 205.
    Recently Joshua Knobe and Erica Roedder found that folk attributions of valuing tend to vary according to the perceived moral goodness of the object of value. This is an interesting finding, but it remains unclear what, precisely, it means. Knobe and Roedder argue that it indicates that the concept MORAL GOODNESS is a feature of the concept VALUING. In this article, I present a study of folk attributions of desires and moral beliefs that undermines this conclusion. I then propose the (...)
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  39. Geoffrey P. Goodwin & John M. Darley (2010). The Perceived Objectivity of Ethical Beliefs: Psychological Findings and Implications for Public Policy. [REVIEW] Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (2):161-188.
    Ethical disputes arise over differences in the content of the ethical beliefs people hold on either side of an issue. One person may believe that it is wrong to have an abortion for financial reasons, whereas another may believe it to be permissible. But, the magnitude and difficulty of such disputes may also depend on other properties of the ethical beliefs in question—in particular, how objective they are perceived to be. As a psychological property of moral belief, objectivity is relatively (...)
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  40. Kurt Gray, Liane Young & Adam Waytz (2012). Mind Perception is the Essence of Morality. Psychological Inquiry 23 (2):101-124.
    Mind perception entails ascribing mental capacities to other entities, whereas moral judgment entails labeling entities as good or bad or actions as right or wrong. We suggest that mind perception is the essence of moral judgment. In particular, we suggest that moral judgment is rooted in a cognitive template of two perceived minds—a moral dyad of an intentional agent and a suffering moral patient. Diverse lines of research support dyadic morality. First, perceptions of mind are linked to moral judgments: dimensions (...)
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  41. Joshua D. Greene (2012). Reflection and Reasoning in Moral Judgment. Cognitive Science 36 (1):163-177.
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  42. Steve Guglielmo, Andrew E. Monroe & Bertram F. Malle (2009). At the Heart of Morality Lies Folk Psychology. Inquiry 52 (5):449-466.
  43. Jonathan D. Haidt, Moral Judgment, Affect, and Culture, or, Is It Wrong to Eat Your Dog?
    Graduate Group Chairperson Acknowledgments Above all I wish to thank my co-advisors, <span class='Hi'>Jonathan</span> Baron and Alan Fiske, and my additional committee members, John Sabini and Paul Rozin, for their wisdom and guidance over the years. This dissertation is the report of a collaborative research project, carried out with Silvia Helena Koller of the Universidade Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and with Maria G. Dias of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, in Recife, Brazil. The research (...)
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  44. Frank Hindriks (2008). Intentional Action and the Praise-Blame Asymmetry. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (233):630-641.
    Recent empirical research by Joshua Knobe has uncovered two asymmetries in judgements about intentional action and moral responsibility. First, people are more inclined to say that a side effect was brought about intentionally when they regard that side effect as bad than when they regard it as good. Secondly, people are more inclined to ascribe blame to someone for bad effects than they are inclined to ascribe praise for good effects. These findings suggest that the notion of intentional action has (...)
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  45. Bryce Huebner (2011). Critiquing Empirical Moral Psychology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (1):50-83.
    Thought experimental methods play a central role in empirical moral psychology. Against the increasingly common interpretation of recent experimental data, I argue that such methods cannot demonstrate that moral intuitions are produced by reflexive computations that are implicit, fast, and largely automatic. I demonstrate, in contrast, that evaluating thought experiments occurs at a near-glacial pace relative to the speed at which reflexive information processing occurs in a human brain. So, these methods allow for more reflective and deliberative processing than has (...)
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  46. Bryce Huebner, Susan Dwyer & Marc D. Hauser (2009). The Role of Emotion in Moral Psychology. Trends in Cognitive Science 13 (1):1-6.
    Recent work in the cognitive and neurobiological sciences indicates an important relationship between emotion and moral judgment. Based on this evidence, several researchers have argued that emotions are the source of our intuitive moral judgments. However, despite the richness of the correlational data between emotion and morality, we argue that the current neurological, behavioral, developmental and evolutionary evidence is insufficient to demonstrate that emotion is necessary for making moral judgments. We suggest instead, that the source of moral judgments lies in (...)
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  47. Bryce Huebner & Marc D. Hauser (2011). Moral Judgments About Altruistic Self-Sacrifice: When Philosophical and Folk Intuitions Clash. Philosophical Psychology 24 (1):73-94.
    Altruistic self-sacrifice is rare, supererogatory, and not to be expected of any rational agent; but, the possibility of giving up one's life for the common good has played an important role in moral theorizing. For example, Judith Jarvis Thomson (2008) has argued in a recent paper that intuitions about altruistic self-sacrifice suggest that something has gone wrong in philosophical debates over the trolley problem. We begin by showing that her arguments face a series of significant philosophical objections; however, our project (...)
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  48. Bryce Huebner, Marc D. Hauser & Phillip Pettit (2011). How the Source, Inevitability and Means of Bringing About Harm Interact in Folk-Moral Judgments. Mind and Language 26 (2):210-233.
    Means-based harms are frequently seen as forbidden, even when they lead to a greater good. But, are there mitigating factors? Results from five experiments show that judgments about means-based harms are modulated by: 1) Pareto considerations (was the harmed person made worse off?), 2) the directness of physical contact, and 3) the source of the threat (e.g. mechanical, human, or natural). Pareto harms are more permissible than non-Pareto harms, Pareto harms requiring direct physical contact are less permissible than those that (...)
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  49. Bryce Huebner, James Lee & Marc D. Hauser (2010). The Moral-Conventional Distinction in Mature Moral Competence. Journal of Cognition and Culture 10 (1/2):1-26.
    Developmental psychologists have long argued that the capacity to distinguish moral and conventional transgressions develops across cultures and emerges early in life. Children reliably treat moral transgressions as more wrong, more punishable, independent of structures of authority, and universally applicable. However, previous studies have not yet examined the role of these features in mature moral cognition. Using a battery of adult-appropriate cases (including vehicular and sexual assault, reckless behavior, and violations of etiquette and social contracts) we demonstrate that these features (...)
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  50. Yoel Inbar, David A. Pizarro, Joshua Knobe & Paul Bloom (2009). Disgust Sensitivity Predicts Intuitive Disapproval of Gays. Emotion 9 (3): 435– 43.
    Two studies demonstrate that a dispositional proneness to disgust (“disgust sensitivity”) is associated with intuitive disapproval of gay people. Study 1 was based on previous research showing that people are more likely to describe a behavior as intentional when they see it as morally wrong (see Knobe, 2006, for a review). As predicted, the more disgust sensitive participants were, the more likely they were to describe an agent whose behavior had the side effect of causing gay men to kiss in (...)
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