Testing Three Principles of Harm
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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��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 these principles are invoked to explain moral judgments, we found that subjects generally appealed to the ﬁrst and third principles in their justiﬁcations, but not to the second. This ﬁnding has significance for methods and theories of moral psychology: The moral principles used in judgment must be directly compared with those articulated in justiﬁcation, and doing so shows that some moral principles are available to conscious reasoning whereas others are not.
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