Philosophical intuitions and psychological theory

Ethics 108 (2):367-385 (1998)
To what extent can philosophical thought experiments reveal norms? Some ethicists have argued that certain thought experiments reveal that people draw a morally significant distinction between "doing" and "allowing". I examine one such thought experiment in detail and argue that the intuitions it elicits can be explained by "prospect theory", a psychological theory about the way people reason. The extent to which such alternative explanations of the results of thought experiments in philosophy are generally available is an empirical question
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