Unintentionally biasing the data: Reply to Knobe

Abstract
Knobe wants to help adjudicate the philosophical debate concerning whether and under what conditions we normally judge that some side effect was brought about intentionally. His proposal for doing so is perhaps an obvious one--simply elicit the intuitions of "The Folk" directly on the matter and record the results. Knobe concludes that people's judgment that a side effect was brought about intentionally apparently rests, at least in part, upon how blameworthy they find the agent responsible for it. Knobe's appreciably straightforward approach to this question does not settle the matter, however. Simply raising that question can itself affect our evaluation of the side effect in question as either something good or something bad. As a result, Knobe's experiments effectively bias subjects' responses toward judging the given side effects more negatively than they might have otherwise. Subjects failed to assign a high level of praise for good side effects because taking into account whether they were brought about intentionally or unintentionally makes them suspect. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Joseph Ulatowski (2012). Act Individuation: An Experimental Approach. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (2):249-262.
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