About this topic

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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  1. The Moral Role Differentiation of Experimental Psychologists.H. A. Bassford - 1982 - In J. D. Keehn (ed.), The Ethics of Psychological Research. Pergamon Press.
  2. The Ordinary Concept of Valuing.Joshua Knobe & Erica Preston‐Roedder - 2009 - Philosophical Issues 19 (1):131-147.
  3. Moral Dilemmas and Moral Rules.Shaun Nichols & Ron Mallon - 2006 - Cognition 100 (3):530-542.
    Recent work shows an important asymmetry in lay intuitions about moral dilemmas. Most people think it is permissible to divert a train so that it will kill one innocent person instead of five, but most people think that it is not permissible to push a stranger in front of a train to save five innocents. We argue that recent emotion-based explanations of this asymmetry have neglected the contribution that rules make to reasoning about moral dilemmas. In two experiments, we find (...)
  4. Public Preferences About Fairness and the Ethics of Allocating Scarce Medical Interventions.Govind Persad - 2017 - In Meng Li & David Tracer (eds.), Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fairness, Equity, and Justice. pp. 51-65.
    This chapter examines how social- scientific research on public preferences bears on the ethical question of how those resources should in fact be allocated, and explain how social-scientific researchers might find an understanding of work in ethics useful as they design mechanisms for data collection and analysis. I proceed by first distinguishing the methodologies of social science and ethics. I then provide an overview of different approaches to the ethics of allocating scarce medical interventions, including an approach—the complete lives system—which (...)
  5. Can the Empirical Sciences Contribute to the Moral Realism/Anti-Realism Debate?Thomas Pölzler - forthcoming - Synthese:1-24.
    An increasing number of moral realists and anti-realists have recently attempted to support their views by appeal to science. Arguments of this kind (such as evolutionary debunking arguments or arguments from moral disagreement) are typically criticized on the object-level. In addition, however, one occasionally also comes across a more sweeping meta-theoretical skepticism. Scientific contributions to the question of the existence of objective moral truths, it is claimed, are impossible in principle; most prominently, because (1) such arguments impermissibly derive normative from (...)
  6. Moral Reality and the Empirical Sciences.Thomas Pölzler - forthcoming - New York: Routledge.
    Are there objective moral truths, i.e. things that are morally right, wrong, good, or bad independently of what anybody thinks about them? To answer this question more and more scholars have recently turned to evidence from psychology, neuroscience, cultural anthropology, and evolutionary biology. This book investigates this novel scientific approach in a comprehensive, empirically-focused, and partly meta-theoretical way. It suggests that while it is possible for the empirical sciences to contribute to the moral realism/anti-realism debate, most arguments that have so (...)
  7. Further Problems with Projectivism.Thomas Pölzler - 2016 - South African Journal of Philosophy 35 (1):92-102.
    From David Hume onwards, many philosophers have argued that moral thinking is characterized by a tendency to “project” our own mental states onto the world. This metaphor of projection may be understood as involving two empirical claims: the claim that humans experience morality as a realm of objective facts (the experiential hypothesis), and the claim that this moral experience is immediately caused by affective attitudes (the causal hypothesis). Elsewhere I argued in detail against one form of the experiential hypothesis. My (...)
  8. Revisiting Folk Moral Realism.Thomas Pölzler - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-22.
    Moral realists believe that there are objective moral truths. According to one of the most prominent arguments in favour of this view, ordinary people experience morality as realist-seeming, and we have therefore prima facie reason to believe that realism is true. Some proponents of this argument have claimed that the hypothesis that ordinary people experience morality as realist-seeming is supported by psychological research on folk metaethics. While most recent research has been thought to contradict this claim, four prominent earlier studies (...)
  9. Moral Judgments and Emotions: A Less Intimate Relationship Than Recently Claimed.Thomas Pölzler - 2015 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 35 (3):177-195.
    It has long been claimed that moral judgements are dominated by reason. In recent years, however, the tide has turned. Many psychologists and philosophers now hold the view that there is a close empirical association between moral judgements and emotions. In particular, they claim that emotions (1) co-occur with moral judgements, (2) causally influence moral judgements, (3) are causally sufficient for moral judgements, and (4) are causally necessary for moral judgements. At first sight these hypotheses seem well-supported. In this paper (...)
  10. Die Formung des Menschlichen Lebens: Nachdenken Über Mills Idee der Lebensexperimente.Thomas Schramme - 2015 - PoLAR 18:51-55.
Experimental Philosophy: Folk Morality
  1. Mayan Morality: An Exploration of Permissible Harms.Linda Abarbanell & Marc D. Hauser - 2010 - 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 (...)
  2. Moral Distance in Dictators Games.Fernando Aguiar, Pablo Brañas-Garza & Luis Miller - 2008 - 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 (...)
  3. Chinese and Westerners Respond Differently to the Trolley Dilemmas.Henrik Ahlenius & Torbjörn Tännsjö - 2012 - 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.
  4. Identifying Virtues and Values Through Obituary Data-Mining.Mark Alfano, Andrew Higgins & Jacob Levernier - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry.
    Because obituaries are succinct and explicitly intended to summarize their subjects’ lives, they may be expected to include only the features that the author finds most salient but also to signal to others in the community the socially-recognized aspects of the deceased’s character. We begin by reviewing studies 1 and 2, in which obituaries were carefully read and labeled. We then report study 3, which further develops these results with a semi-automated, large-scale semantic analysis of several thousand obituaries. Geography, gender, (...)
  5. Experimental Moral Philosophy.Mark Alfano & Don Loeb - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-32.
    Experimental moral philosophy began to emerge as a methodology in the last decade of the twentieth century, a branch of the larger experimental philosophy (X-Phi, XΦ) approach. From the beginning, it has been embroiled in controversy on a number of fronts. Some doubt that it is philosophy at all. Others acknowledge that it is philosophy but think that it has produced modest results at best and confusion at worst. Still others think it represents an important advance.
  6. Hypocrisy: What Counts?Mark Alicke, Ellen Gordon & David Rose - 2012 - 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 (...)
  7. Breaking Out of Moral Typecasting.Adam J. Arico - 2012 - 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 (...)
  8. Bad News for Conservatives? Moral Judgments and the Dark Triad Personality Traits: A Correlational Study.Marcus Arvan - 2013 - 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 (...)
  9. Use of a Rasch Model to Predict Response Times to Utilitarian Moral Dilemmas.Jonathan Baron, Burcu Gürçay, Adam B. Moore & Katrin Starcke - 2012 - Synthese 189 (S1):107-117.
    A two-systems model of moral judgment proposed by Joshua Greene holds that deontological moral judgments (those based on simple rules concerning action) are often primary and intuitive, and these intuitive judgments must be overridden by reflection in order to yield utilitarian (consequence-based) responses. For example, one dilemma asks whether it is right to push a man onto a track in order to stop a trolley that is heading for five others. Those who favor pushing, the utilitarian response, usually take longer (...)
  10. Small-Scale Societies Exhibit Fundamental Variation in the Role of Intentions in Moral Judgment.H. Clark Barrett, Alexander Bolyanatz, Alyssa N. Crittenden, Daniel M. T. Fessler, Simon Fitzpatrick, Michael Gurven, Joseph Henrich, Martin Kanovsky, Geoff Kushnick, Anne Pisor, Brooke A. Scelza, Stephen Stich, Chris von Rueden, Wanying Zhao & Stephen Laurence - 2016 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113 (17):4688–4693.
    Intent and mitigating circumstances play a central role in moral and legal assessments in large-scale industrialized societies. Al- though these features of moral assessment are widely assumed to be universal, to date, they have only been studied in a narrow range of societies. We show that there is substantial cross-cultural variation among eight traditional small-scale societies (ranging from hunter-gatherer to pastoralist to horticulturalist) and two Western societies (one urban, one rural) in the extent to which intent and mitigating circumstances influence (...)
  11. Evil and Moral Psychology.Peter Brian Barry - 2012 - Routledge.
    This book examines what makes someone an evil person and how evil people are different from merely bad people. Rather than focusing on the "problem of evil" that occupies philosophers of religion, Barry looks instead to moral psychology—the intersection of ethics and psychology. He provides both a philosophical account of what evil people are like and considers the implications of that account for social, legal, and criminal institutions. He also engages in traditional philosophical reasoning strongly informed by psychological research, especially (...)
  12. Moral Masquerades: Experimental Exploration of the Nature of Moral Motivation.C. Daniel Batson - 2008 - 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 (...)
  13. Weakness of Will, Reasonability, and Compulsion.James Beebe - 2013 - 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 (...)
  14. Moral Relativism in Context.James Beebe - 2010 - 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 (...)
  15. Moral Valence and Semantic Intuitions.James R. Beebe & Ryan J. Undercoffer - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (2):445-466.
    Despite the swirling tide of controversy surrounding the work of Machery et al. , the cross-cultural differences they observed in semantic intuitions about the reference of proper names have proven to be robust. In the present article, we report cross-cultural and individual differences in semantic intuitions obtained using new experimental materials. In light of the pervasiveness of the Knobe effect and the fact that Machery et al.’s original materials incorporated elements of wrongdoing but did not control for their influence, we (...)
  16. Motivational Internalism and Folk Intuitions.Gunnar Björnsson, John Eriksson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder & Fredrik Björklund - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (5):715-734.
    Motivational internalism postulates a necessary connection between moral judgments and motivation. In arguing for and against internalism, metaethicists traditionally appeal to intuitions about cases, but crucial cases often yield conflicting intuitions. One way to try to make progress, possibly uncovering theoretical bias and revealing whether people have conceptions of moral judgments required for noncognitivist accounts of moral disagreement, is to investigate non-philosophers' willingness to attribute moral judgments. A pioneering study by Shaun Nichols seemed to undermine internalism, as a large majority (...)
  17. A Unified Empirical Account of Responsibility Judgments.Gunnar Björnsson & Karl Persson - 2013 - 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 (...)
  18. Judgments of Moral Responsibility – a Unified Account.Gunnar Björnsson & Karl Persson - 2009 - In [2009] Society for Philosophy and Psychology, 35th Annual Meeting (Bloomington, IN; June 12-14). pp. 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 (...)
  19. Overdemanding Consequentialism? An Experimental Approach.Martin Bruder & Attila Tanyi - 2014 - 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 (...)
  20. Gettier Made ESEE.Wesley Buckwalter - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (3):368-383.
    Previous research in experimental philosophy has suggested that moral judgments can influence the ordinary application of a number of different concepts, including attributions of knowledge. But should epistemologists care? The present set of studies demonstrate that this basic effect can be extended to overturn intuitions in some of the most theoretically central experiments in contemporary epistemology: Gettier cases. Furthermore, experiment three shows that this effect is unlikely mediated by a simple desire to blame, suggesting that a correct psychological account of (...)
  21. Inability and Obligation in Moral Judgment.Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri - 2015 - PLoS ONE 10 (8).
    It is often thought that judgments about what we ought to do are limited by judgments about what we can do, or that “ought implies can.” We conducted eight experiments to test the link between a range of moral requirements and abilities in ordinary moral evaluations. Moral obligations were repeatedly attributed in tandem with inability, regardless of the type (Experiments 1–3), temporal duration (Experiment 5), or scope (Experiment 6) of inability. This pattern was consistently observed using a variety of moral (...)
  22. L'architettura Morale Della Città.Leonardo Caffo - 2012 - BLOOM - Trimestrale di Architettura 15 2012 (15):5-8.
    Basandomi su (Harvey 2012) argomenterò che la struttura architettonica della città deve seguire un determinato modello morale: gli edifici devono adattarsi alla persone e alle loro esigenze, e non il contrario. Definita la città come un particolare tipo di oggetto sociale, difenderò la tesi della possibilità di cambiamento “qui e ora” delle strutture architettoniche delle città sulla base del modello che, come mostra (Sudjic 2011), è attualmente ribaltato in una situazione in cui gli agglomerati urbani seguono sostanzialmente una struttura che (...)
  23. Do Theories of Implicit Race Bias Change Moral Judgments?C. Daryl Cameron, Joshua Knobe & B. Keith Payne - 2010 - 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 (...)
  24. Moral Reasoning on the Ground.Richmond Campbell & Victor Kumar - 2012 - 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 (...)
  25. Predicting Moral Judgments From Causal Judgments.Emmanuel Chemla, Paul Egré & Philippe Schlenker - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (1):21-48.
    Several factors have been put forward to explain the variability of moral judgments for superficially analogous moral dilemmas, in particular in the paradigm of trolley cases. In this paper we elaborate on Mikhail's view that (i) causal analysis is at the core of moral judgments and that (ii) causal judgments can be quantified by linguistic methods. According to this model, our moral judgments depend both on utilitarian considerations (whether positive effects outweigh negative effects) and on a representation of the causal (...)
  26. Blame, Not Ability, Impacts Moral “Ought” Judgments for Impossible Actions: Toward an Empirical Refutation of “Ought” Implies “Can”.Vladimir Chituc, Paul Henne, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Felipe De Brigard - 2016 - Cognition 150:20-25.
    Recently, psychologists have explored moral concepts including obligation, blame, and ability. While little empirical work has studied the relationships among these concepts, philosophers have widely assumed such a relationship in the principle that “ought” implies “can,” which states that if someone ought to do something, then they must be able to do it. The cognitive underpinnings of these concepts are tested in the three experiments reported here. In Experiment 1, most participants judge that an agent ought to keep a promise (...)
  27. Experimental Evidence Relating to the Person-Situation Interactionist Model of Ethical Decision Making.Church Bryan, C. Gaa James, Nainar S. M. Khalid & M. Shehata Mohamed - 2005 - 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 (...)
  28. The Case of Jojo and Our Pretheoretical Intuitions: An Externalist Interpretation.Michelle Ciurria - 2014 - 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 (...)
  29. Virtue in Business: Morally Better, Praiseworthy, Trustworthy, and More Satisfying.E. T. Cokely & A. Feltz - forthcoming - Journal of Organizational Moral Psychology.
    In four experiments, we offer evidence that virtues are often judged as uniquely important for some business practices (e.g., hospital management and medical error investigation). Overall, actions done only from virtue (either by organizations or individuals) were judged to feel better, to be more praiseworthy, to be more morally right, and to be associated with more trustworthy leadership and greater personal life satisfaction compared to actions done only to produce the best consequences or to follow the correct moral rule. These (...)
  30. Judgments About Moral Responsibility and Determinism in Patients with Behavioural Variant of Frontotemporal Dementia: Still Compatibilists.Florian Cova, Maxime Bertoux, Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde & Bruno Dubois - 2012 - 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 (...)
  31. Side-Effect Effect Without Side Effects: The Pervasive Impact of Moral Considerations on Judgments of Intentionality.Florian Cova & Hichem Naar - 2012 - Philosophical Psychology 25 (6):837-854.
    Studying the folk concept of intentional action, Knobe (2003a) discovered a puzzling asymmetry: most people consider some bad side effects as intentional while they consider some good side effects as unintentional. In this study, we extend these findings with new experiments. The first experiment shows that the very same effect can be found in ascriptions of intentionality in the case of means for action. The second and third experiments show that means are nevertheless generally judged more intentional than side effects, (...)
  32. Sens commun et objectivisme moral : Objectivisme "global" ou objectivisme "local" ? Une introduction par l'exemple à la philosophie expérimentale.Florian Cova & Jérôme Ravat - 2008 - 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.
  33. Crime and Punishment: Distinguishing the Roles of Causal and Intentional Analyses in Moral Judgment.Fiery Cushman - 2008 - 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 (...)
  34. Moral Appraisals Affect Doing/Allowing Judgments.Fiery Cushman, Joshua Knobe & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2008 - 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 (...)
  35. Patterns of Moral Judgment Derive From Nonmoral Psychological Representations.Fiery Cushman & Liane Young - 2011 - 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 (...)
  36. The Psychology of Dilemmas and the Philosophy of Morality.Fiery Cushman & Liane Young - 2009 - 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 (...)
  37. The Role of Conscious Reasoning and Intuition in Moral Judgment.Fiery Cushman, Liane Young & Marc Hauser - 2006 - 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 (...)
  38. Responsibility and the Brain Sciences.Felipe De Brigard, Eric Mandelbaum & David Ripley - 2009 - 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 (...)
  39. Phenomenal Abilities: Incompatibilism and the Experience of Agency.Oisín Deery, Matthew S. Bedke & Shaun Nichols - 2013 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 126–50.
    Incompatibilists often claim that we experience our agency as incompatible with determinism, while compatibilists challenge this claim. We report a series of experiments that focus on whether the experience of having an ability to do otherwise is taken to be at odds with determinism. We found that participants in our studies described their experience as incompatibilist whether the decision was (i) present-focused or retrospective, (ii) imagined or actual, (iii) morally salient or morally neutral. The only case in which participants did (...)
  40. Folk Feminist Theory: An Experimental Approach.Peggy Desautels - 2008 - Hypatia 23 (4):pp. 240-244.
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