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 (...) that he is unable to keep, but only when he is to blame for the inability. Experiment 2 shows that such “ought” judgments correlate with judgments of blame, rather than with judgments of the agent’s ability. Experiment 3 replicates these findings for moral “ought” judgments and finds that they do not hold for nonmoral “ought” judgments, such as what someone ought to do to fulfill their desires. These results together show that folk moral judgments do not conform to a widely assumed philosophical principle that “ought” implies “can.” Instead, judgments of blame play a modulatory role in some judgments of obligation. (shrink)
Should parents aim to make their children as normal as possible to increase their chances to “fit in”? Are neurological and mental health conditions a part of children’s identity and if so, should parents aim to remove or treat these? Should they aim to instill self-control in their children? Should prospective parents take steps to insure that, of all the children they could have, they choose the ones with the best likely start in life? -/- This volume explores all of (...) these questions and more. Against the background of recent findings and expected advances in neuroscience and genetics, the extent and limits of parental responsibility are increasingly unclear. Awareness of the effects of parental choices on children’s wellbeing, as well as evolving norms about the moral status of children, have further increased expectations from (prospective) parents to take up and act on their changing responsibilities. -/- The contributors discuss conceptual issues such as the meaning and sources of moral responsibility, normality, treatment, and identity. They also explore more practical issues such as how responsibility for children is practiced in Yoruba culture in Nigeria or how parents and health professionals in Belgium perceive the dilemmas generated by prenatal diagnosis. (shrink)
In certain contexts reasoners reject instances of the valid Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens inference form in conditional arguments. Byrne (1989) observed this suppression effect when a conditional premise is accompanied by a conditional containing an additional requirement. In an earlier study, Rumain, Connell, and Braine (1983) observed suppression of the invalid inferences "the denial of the antecedent" and "the affirmation of the consequent" when a conditional premise is accompanied by a conditional containing an alternative requirement. Here we present three (...) experiments showing that the results of Byrne (1989) and Rumain et al. (1983) are influenced by the answer procedure. When reasoners have to evaluate answer alternatives that only deal with the inferences that can be made with respect to the first conditional, then suppression is observed (Experiment 1). However, when reasoners are also given answer alternatives about the second conditional (Experiment 2) no suppression is observed. Moreover, contrary to the hypothesis of Byrne (1989), at least some of the reasoners do not combine the information of the two conditionals and do not give a conclusion based on the combined premise. Instead, we hypothesise that some of the reasoners have reasoned in two stages. In the first stage, they form a putative conclusion on the basis of the first conditional and the categorical premise, and in the second stage, they amend the putative conclusion in the light of the information in the second premise. This hypothesis was confirmed in Experiment 3. Finally, the results are discussed with respect to the mental model theory and reasoning research in general. (shrink)
People frequently entertain counterfactual thoughts, or mental simulations about alternative ways the world could have been. But the perceived plausibility of those counterfactual thoughts varies widely. The current article interfaces research in the philosophy and semantics of counterfactual statements with the psychology of mental simulations, and it explores the role of perceived similarity in judgments of counterfactual plausibility. We report results from seven studies (N = 6405) jointly supporting three interconnected claims. First, the perceived plausibility of a counterfactual event is (...) predicted by the perceived similarity between the possible world in which the imagined situation is thought to occur and the actual world. Second, when people attend to differences between imagined possible worlds and the actual world, they think of the imagined possible worlds as less similar to the actual world and tend to judge counterfactuals in such worlds as less plausible. Lastly, when people attend to what is identical between imagined possible worlds and the actual world, they think of the imagined possible worlds as more similar to the actual world and tend to judge counterfactuals in such worlds as more plausible. We discuss these results in light of philosophical, semantic, and psychological theories of counterfactual thinking. (shrink)
While philosophers generally accept some version of the principle ‘ought’ implies ‘can’, recent work in experimental philosophy and cognitive science provides evidence against a presupposition or a conceptual entailment from ‘ought’ to ‘can’. Here, we review some of this evidence, its effect on particular formulations of the principle, and future directions for cognitive scientists and philosophers.
People more frequently select norm-violating factors, relative to norm- conforming ones, as the cause of some outcome. Until recently, this abnormal-selection effect has been studied using retrospective vignette-based paradigms. We use a novel set of video stimuli to investigate this effect for prospective causal judgments—i.e., judgments about the cause of some future outcome. Four experiments show that people more frequently select norm- violating factors, relative to norm-conforming ones, as the cause of some future outcome. We show that the abnormal-selection effects (...) are not primarily explained by the perception of agency (Experiment 4). We discuss these results in relation to recent efforts to model causal judgment. (shrink)
Upon initial publication in 1956, this book was an attempt to re-state certain problems concerning the aesthetics and ethics of the tragic form; to examine these in relation to contemporary work in psychology and anthropology; to enquire into the significance of ‘the fact or experience called tragedy’ in the modern world; and to suggest a synthesis in terms of the Christian tradition. This is a reissue of the corrected second edition of the work, first published in 1966.
People generally accept that there is causation by omission—that the omission of some events cause some related events. But this acceptance elicits the selection problem, or the difficulty of explaining the selection of a particular omissive cause or class of causes from the causal conditions. Some theorists contend that dependence theories of causation cannot resolve this problem. In this paper, we argue that the appeal to norms adequately resolves the selection problem for dependence theories, and we provide novel experimental evidence (...) for it. (shrink)
The ethical guidelines for prenatal diagnosis proposed by the World Health Organisation , as well as by national regulations, only refer to paternity and gender of the fetus as unacceptable, disease-unrelated criteria for prenatal selection, as no other such parameters are at hand so far. This perspective is too narrow because research on complex genetic systems such as cognition and ageing is about to provide clinically applicable tests for genetic constituents of potentially desirable properties such as intelligence or longevity which (...) could be misused as parameters for prenatal diagnosis. Moreover, there is an increasing number of prenatally testable genetic traits, such as heritable deafness, which are generally regarded as pathological but desired by some prospective parents and taken into account as parameters for pro-disability selection. To protect prenatal diagnosis from ethically unacceptable genetic consumerism, guidelines must be clarified as soon as possible and updated towards a worldwide restriction of prenatal genetic testing to immediately disease-determining traits. (shrink)
People’s causal judgments are susceptible to the action effect, whereby they judge actions to be more causal than inactions. We offer a new explanation for this effect, the counterfactual explanation: people judge actions to be more causal than inactions because they are more inclined to consider the counterfactual alternatives to actions than to consider counterfactual alternatives to inactions. Experiment 1a conceptually replicates the original action effect for causal judgments. Experiment 1b confirms a novel prediction of the new explanation, the reverse (...) action effect, in which people judge inactions to be more causal than actions in overdetermination cases. Experiment 2 directly compares the two effects in joint-causation and overdetermination scenarios and conceptually replicates them with new scenarios. Taken together, these studies provide support for the new counterfactual explanation for the action effect in causal judgment. (shrink)
Psychiatric diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are primarily attributed on the basis of behavioral criteria. The aim of most of the biomedical research on ASD is to uncover the underlying mechanisms that lead to or even cause pathological behavior. However, in the philosophical and sociological literature, it has been suggested that autism is also to some extent a ‘social construct’ that cannot merely be reduced to its biological explanation. We show that a one-sided adherence to either a biological (...) or a social explanation leads to a moral dilemma, a Catch-22, for autistics and for those living with them. Such explanations close the space for self-identifying as autistic and at the same time being considered to be in good mental health. They foreclose the possibility of making sense of the lived experience of (and with) autistics. In this paper we argue that such lack of space for moral imagination inherently leads to scientific stalemate. We propose that one can only go beyond this stalemate by taking an ethical stance in theorizing, one that enables better intersubjective understanding. Only on such a view can behavior and biology be linked without either disconnecting them or reducing the one to the other. (shrink)
Most philosophers assume that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’, and most of them hold that this principle is true not only universally but also analytically or conceptually. Some skeptics deny this principle, although they often admit some related one. In this article, we show how new empirical evidence bolsters the skeptics’ arguments. We then defend the skeptical view against some objections to the empirical evidence and to its effect on the traditional principle. In light of the new evidence, we conclude that philosophers (...) should stop unconditionally assuming that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. (shrink)
Pour cette collection d' «Initiations aux Pères de l'Église» où ont déjà pris place un volume sur Maxime le Confesseur et un sur la Règle de saint Augustin, ainsi que des études thématiques, Ph. Henné a choisi de faire autant de place aux textes même d'Origène (O.) qu'à la présentation de sa théologie. Les travaux d'Henri Crouzel, en particulier l'ouvrage paru en 1984 (Origène, Lethielleux, Paris) et ses bibliographies origéniennes, constituent les références permanentes del'A. mais la clart..
People tend to judge more recent events, relative to earlier ones, as the cause of some particular outcome. For instance, people are more inclined to judge that the last basket, rather than the first, caused the team to win the basketball game. This recency effect, however, reverses in cases of overdetermination: people judge that earlier events, rather than more recent ones, caused the outcome when the event is individually sufficient but not individually necessary for the outcome. In five experiments (N (...) = 5507), we find evidence for the recency effect and the primacy effect for causal judgment. Traditionally, these effects have been a problem for counterfactual views of causal judgment. However, we argue that an extension of a recent counterfactual model of causal judgment explains both the recency and the primacy effect. In line with the predictions of our extended counterfactual model, we also find that, regardless of causal structure, people tend to imagine the counterfactual alternative to the more recent event rather than to the earlier one. Moreover, manipulating this tendency affects causal judgments in the ways predicted by this extended model: asking participants to imagine the counterfactual alternative to the earlier event weakens the interaction between recency and causal structure, and asking participants to imagine the counterfactual alternative to the more recent event strengthens the interaction between recency and causal structure. We discuss these results in relation to work on counterfactual thinking, causal modeling, and late-preemption. (shrink)
This article illustrates how racial capitalism can enhance understandings of data, capital, and inequality through an in-depth study of digital platforms used for intervening in gender-based violence. Specifically, we examine an emergent sociotechnical strategy that uses software platforms and artificial intelligence chatbots to offer users emergency assistance, education, and a means to report and build evidence against perpetrators. Our analysis details how two reporting apps construct data to support institutionally legible narratives of violence, highlighting overlooked racialised dimensions of the data (...) capital generated through their use. We draw attention to how they reinforce property relations built on extraction and ownership, capital accumulation that reinforces benefits derived through data property relations and ownership, and the commodification of diversity and inclusion. Recognising these patterns are not unique to anti-violence apps, we reflect on how this example aids in understanding how racial capitalism becomes a constitutive element of digital platforms, which more generally extract information from users, rely on complex financial partnerships, and often sustain problematic relationships with the criminal legal system. We conclude with a discussion of how racial capitalism can advance scholarship at the intersections of data and power. (shrink)
The combination of the issue of return of individual genetic results/incidental findings and paediatric biobanks is not much discussed in ethical literature. The traditional arguments pro and con return of such findings focus on principles such as respect for persons, autonomy and solidarity. Two dimensions have been distilled from the discussion on return of individual results in a genetic research context: the respect for a participant’s autonomy and the duty of the researcher. Concepts such as autonomy and solidarity do not (...) fit easily in the discussion when paediatric biobanks are concerned. Although parents may be allowed to enrol children in minimal risk genetic research on stored tissue samples, they should not be given the option to opt out of receiving important health information. Also, children have a right to an open future: parents do not have the right to access any genetic data that a biobank holds on their children. In this respect, the guidelines on genetic testing of minors are applicable. With regard to the duty of the researcher the question of whether researchers have a more stringent duty to return important health information when their research subjects are children is more difficult to answer. A researcher’s primary duty is to perform useful research, a policy to return individual results must not hamper this task. The fact that vulnerable children are concerned, is an additional factor that should be considered when a policy of returning results is laid down for a specific collection or research project. (shrink)
People often reason about omissions. One line of research shows that people can distinguish between the semantics of omissive causes and omissive enabling conditions: for instance, not flunking out of college enabled you (but didn’t cause you) to graduate. Another line of work shows that people rely on the normative status of omissive events in inferring their causal role: if the outcome came about because the omission violated some norm, reasoners are more likely to select that omission as a cause. (...) We designed a novel paradigm that tests how norms interact with the semantics of omissive enabling conditions. The paradigm concerns the circuitry of a mechanical device that plays music. Two experiments used the paradigm to stipulate norms and present a distinct set of possibilities to participants. Participants chose which causal verb best described the operations of the machine. The studies revealed that participants’ responses are best predicted by their tendency to consider the semantics of omissive relations. In contrast, norms had little to no effect in participants’ responses. We conclude by marshaling the evidence and considering what role norms may play in people’s understanding of omissions. (shrink)
The world has surpassed three million deaths from COVID-19, and faces potentially catastrophic tipping points in the global climate system. Despite the urgency, governments have struggled to address either problem. In this paper, we argue that COVID-19 and anthropogenic climate change (ACC) are critical examples of an emerging type of governance challenge: severe collective action problems that require significant individual behavior change under conditions of hyper- partisanship and scientific misinformation. Building on foundational political science work demonstrating the potential for norms (...) (or informal rules of behavior) to solve collective action problems, we analyze more recent work on norms from neighboring disciplines to offer novel recommendations for more difficult challenges like COVID-19 and ACC. Key insights include more attention to (1) norm-based messaging strategies that appeal to individuals across the ideological spectrum or that reframe collective action as consistent with resistant subgroups’ pre-existing values, (2) messages that emphasize both the prevalence and the social desirability of individual behaviors required to address these challenges, (3) careful use of public policies and incentives that make individual behavior change easier without threatening norm internalization, and (4) greater attention to epistemic norms governing trust in different information sources. We conclude by pointing out that COVID-19 and climate change are likely harbingers of other polarized collective action problems that governments will face in the future. By connecting work on norms and political governance with a broader, interdisciplinary literature on norm psychology, motivation, and behavior change, we aim to improve the ability of political scientists and policy makers to respond to these and future collective action challenges. (shrink)
Placing Parmenides in his proper historical context by taking seriously the impact of Persian Zoroastrianism on his developing monoism, Henn supplies precise interpretation of the most difficult and vexing of Parmenides's fragments, while ...
The conditions of life of many companion animals and the rate at which they are surrendered to shelters raise many ethical issues. What duties do we have towards the dogs that live in our society? To suggest answers to these questions, I first give four possible ways of looking at the relationship between man and dog: master–slave, employer–worker, parent–child, and friend–friend. I argue that the morally acceptable relationships are of a different kind but bears family resemblances to the latter three. (...) As dogs are beings with an interest in their wellbeing, society has certain duties towards the dogs, which can be translated in legislation. But human beings also have special responsibilities towards the dogs they take into their care. Such responsibilities entail caring for their emotional and physical welfare, but also ensuring a bond of trust, which should not easily be broken. (shrink)
Many philosophers claim that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. In light of recent empirical evidence, however, some skeptics conclude that philosophers should stop assuming the principle unconditionally. Streumer, however, does not simply assume the principle’s truth; he provides arguments for it. In this article, we argue that his arguments fail to support the claim that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’.
With the new and highly accurate noninvasive prenatal test, new options for screening become available. I contend that the current state of the art of NIPT is already in need of a thorough ethical investigation and that there are different points to consider before any chromosomal or subchromosomal condition is added to the screening panel of a publicly funded screening program. Moreover, the application of certain ethical principles makes the inclusion of some conditions unethical in a privately funded scheme, even (...) if such screening would enhance a woman’s reproductive autonomy. On the one hand, a screening program aimed solely at the detection of Down syndrome is subject to the technological imperative and should be reassessed in the light of technologies that allow for the detection of conditions that are at least as severe. On the other hand, some chromosomal conditions should not be included in any screening programs, because this would violate certain ethical principles, such as the right of the future child to genetic privacy. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIs the question ‘will you regret it if you do this?’ helpful when people face difficult life decisions, such as terminating a pregnancy if a disability is detected or deciding to become a parent? Despite the commonness of the question in daily life, several philosophers have argued lately against its usefulness. We reconstruct four arguments from recent literature on regret, transformative experience and the use of imagination in deliberation. After analysis of these arguments we conclude that the prospect of regret (...) remains a useful deliberative heuristic, provided four conditions are fulfilled. If the prospect of regret is arrived at via reflection on one’s values, in a non-coercive context, when well-informed about factual circumstances, and in a process of self-commitment, the question of what one will regret is a helpful device to get in touch with one’s deepest concerns that give reasons to act in a particular way. (shrink)
The sources, extent and margins of parental obligations in taking decisions regarding their children’s medical care are subjects of ongoing debates. Balancing children’s immediate welfare with keeping their future open is a delicate task. In this paper, we briefly present two examples of situations in which parents may be confronted with the choice of whether to authorise or demand non-therapeutic interventions on their children for the purpose of fertility preservation. The first example is that of children facing cancer treatment, and (...) the second of children with Klinefelter syndrome. We argue that, whereas decisions of whether to preserve fertility may be prima facie within the limits of parental discretion, the right to an open future does not straightforwardly put parents under an obligation to take actions that would detect or relieve future infertility in their children—and indeed in some cases taking such actions is problematic. (shrink)
A shift towards a bioeconomy is not sustainable per se. In order to contribute to sustainable development, a bioeconomy must meet certain conditions. These conditions have been discussed with respect to technology and also to the importance of ethical aspects. Consumers’ behavior has also been acknowledged. However, consumers still have to choose sustainable consumption options, and this choice depends on their psychological makeup, which can be related to two factors: behavioral costs and individual sustainability motivation. Behavioral costs determine how difficult (...) the consumption of a bio-based product is, relative to other less sustainable consumption options. Sustainability motivation determines how much effort a person is willing to expend for a more sustainable consumption option, for the sustainable use and recycling of a product, or even to refrain from engaging in consumption. In addition, in a complex bioeconomic system, the sustainability of a bio-based consumption option is not always clear cut. After providing an introduction to the systemic and technological background of bio-based products, we present how consumers’ sustainability motivation is an essential and decisive pull factor for a circular sustainable bioeconomy. We also present the drivers of consumers’ sustainability motivation as necessary components of a sustainable bioeconomic system. (shrink)
Ethicism is the most comprehensively defended answer to the question regarding whether ethical properties determine aesthetic properties in artworks. According to ethicism, aesthetically relevant ethical flaws in artworks count as aesthetic flaws and aesthetically relevant ethical merits count as aesthetic merits. In this paper, I argue that ethicism’s most significant argument, the Merited Response Argument suffers from an ambiguity that makes it either unsound or uninteresting. Specifically, the notion of an artwork’s ‘prescribing’ a response, central to MRA, is ambiguous between (...) merely attempting to elicit a response from appreciators as appropriate to a work, and endorsing a response as appropriate to relevant parts of the actual world. While the first sense of ‘prescribe’ does the aesthetic work, the second does the ethical. (shrink)
People tend to judge more recent events, relative to earlier ones, as the cause of some particular outcome. For instance, people are more inclined to judge that the last basket, rather than the first, caused the team to win the basketball game. This recency effect, however, reverses in cases of overdetermination: people judge that earlier events, rather than more recent ones, caused the outcome when the event is individually sufficient but not individually necessary for the outcome. In five experiments (N (...) = 5507), we find evidence for the recency effect and the primacy effect for causal judgment. Traditionally, these effects have been a problem for counterfactual views of causal judgment. However, an extension of a recent counterfactual model of causal judgment explains both the recency and the primacy effect. In line with the predictions of the extended counterfactual model, we also find that, regardless of causal structure, people tend to imagine the counterfactual alternative to the more recent event rather than to the earlier one (Experiment 2). Moreover, manipulating this tendency affects causal judgments in the ways predicted by this extended model: asking participants to imagine the counterfactual alternative to the earlier event weakens (and sometimes eliminates) the interaction between recency and causal structure, and asking participants to imagine the counterfactual alternative to the more recent event strengthens the interaction between recency and causal structure (Experiments 3 & 5). We discuss these results in relation to work on counterfactual thinking and causal modeling. (shrink)
Two types of truth table task are used to examine people's mental representation of conditionals. In two within-participants experiments, participants either receive the same task-type twice (Experiment 1) or are presented successively with both a possibilities task and a truth task (Experiment 2). Experiment 3 examines how people interpret the three-option possibilities task and whether they have a clear understanding of it. The present study aims to examine, for both task-types, how participants' cognitive ability relates to the classification of the (...) truth table cases as irrelevant, and their consistency in doing so. Looking at the answer patterns, participants' cognitive ability influences their classification of the truth table cases: A positive correlation exists between cognitive ability and the number of false-antecedent cases classified as ?irrelevant?, both in the possibilities task and the truth task. This favours a suppositional representation of conditionals. (shrink)
Autism Spectrum Condition presents a challenge to social and relational accounts of the self, precisely because it is broadly seen as a disorder impacting social relationships. Many influential theories argue that social deficits and impairments of the self are the core problems in ASC. Predictive processing approaches address these based on general purpose neurocognitive mechanisms that are expressed atypically. Here we use the High, Inflexible Precision of Prediction Errors in Autism approach in the context of cultural niche construction to explain (...) atypicalities of the relational self, specifically its minimal, extended, and intersubjective aspects. We contend that the social self in ASC should not be seen as impaired, but rather as an outcome of atypical niche construction. We unpack the scientific, ethical, and practical consequences of this view, and discuss implications for how the challenges that autistic persons face should be approached. (shrink)
If a work of literary fiction prescribes us to imagine that the Devil made a bet with God and transformed into a poodle, then that claim is true in the fiction and we imagine accordingly. Generally, we cooperate imaginatively with literary fictions, however bizarre, and the things authors write into their stories become true in the fiction. But for some claims, such as moral falsehoods, this seems not to be straightforwardly the case, which raises the question: Why not? The puzzles (...) such cases raise are sometimes grouped under the heading “imaginative resistance”. In this paper, I argue against what I take to be the best attempts to dismiss the puzzles and solve them. I also tease out subtleties not sufficiently addressed in the existing literature and end by defending a unified solution of my own. According to this solution, the puzzling phenomena occur when literary works offer inadequate and exhaustive grounds for claims. The solution’s novelty lies in its giving a normative rather than psychological or alethic explanation for the puzzling phenomena, the relevant norms being those of proper artistic appreciation. (shrink)
The outcomes of sports and competitive games excite intense emotions in many people, even when those same people acknowledge that those outcomes are of trifling importance. I call this incongruity between the judged importance of the outcome and the intense reactions it provokes the Puzzle of Sport. The puzzle can be usefully compared to another puzzle in aesthetics: the Paradox of Fiction, which asks how it is we become emotionally caught up with events and characters we know to be unreal. (...) In this article, I examine the prospects of understanding our engagement with competitive games on the model of our engagement with works of fiction, thus enabling analogous explanations for both puzzles. I show that there are significant problems with such an approach and offer an alternative, mobilizing ideas from David Velleman and Thomas Nagel, that appeals to the volatility of our motivational attitudes. (shrink)