“The Group Knobe Effect”: evidence that people intuitively attribute agency and responsibility to groups

Philosophical Explorations:1-18 (forthcoming)
Authors
Andras Szigeti
Linkoping University
John Michael
Aarhus University
Abstract
In the current paper, we present and discuss a series of experiments in which we investigated people’s willingness to ascribe intentions, as well as blame and praise, to groups. The experiments draw upon the so-called “Knobe Effect”. Knobe [2003. “Intentional action and side effects in ordinary language.” Analysis 63: 190–194] found that the positiveness or negativeness of side-effects of actions influences people’s assessment of whether those side-effects were brought about intentionally, and also that people are more willing to assign blame for negative side-effects of actions than they are to assign praise for positive side-effect of actions. Building upon this research, we found evidence that the positiveness or negativeness of side-effects of group actions influences people’s willingness to attribute intentions to groups, and that people are more willing to assign blame to groups for negative side-effects of actions than they are to assign praise to groups for positive side-effects of...
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2018.1492007
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