Knobe vs Machery: Testing the trade-off hypothesis

Mind and Language 23 (2):247-255 (2008)
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Abstract

Recent work by Joshua Knobe has established that people are far more likely to describe bad but foreseen side effects as intentionally performed than good but foreseen side effects (this is sometimes called the 'Knobe effect' or the 'side-effect effect.' Edouard Machery has proposed a novel explanation for this asymmetry: it results from construing the bad side effect as a cost that must be incurred to receive a benefit. In this paper, I argue that Machery's 'trade-off hypothesis' is wrong. I do this by reproducing the asymmetry between judgments about good and bad side effects in cases that cannot plausibly be construed as trade-offs.

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Ron Mallon
Washington University in St. Louis