Abstract -/- The perfectly natural properties and relations are special—they are all and only those that "carve nature at its joints." They act as reference magnets, form a minimal supervenience base, figure in fundamental physics and in the laws of nature, and never divide duplicates within or between worlds. If the perfectly natural properties are the (metaphysically) important ones, we should expect being a perfectly natural property to itself be one of the (perfectly) natural properties. This paper argues that being (...) a perfectly natural property is not a very natural property, and examines the consequences. (shrink)
It is human nature to wonder how things might have turned out differently--either for the better or for the worse. For the past two decades psychologists have been intrigued by this phenomenon, which they call counterfactual thinking. Specifically, researchers have sought to answer the "big" questions: Why do people have such a strong propensity to generate counterfactuals, and what functions does counterfactual thinking serve? What are the determinants of counterfactual thinking, and what are its adaptive and psychological consequences? This important (...) work brings together a collection of thought-provoking papers by social and cognitive psychologists who have made important theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of this topic. The essays in this volume contain novel theoretical insights, and, in many cases descriptions of previously unpublished empirical studies. The Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking provides an excellent overview of this fascinating topic for researchers, as well as advanced undergraduates and graduates in psychology--particularly those with an interest in social cognition, social judgment, decision judgment, decision making, thinking and reasoning. (shrink)
Historically, cognitivists considered moral choices to be determined by analytic processes. Recent theories, however, have emphasized the role of intuitive processes in determining moral choices. We propose that the engagement of analytic and intuitive processes is contingent on the type of tradeoff being considered. Specifically, when a tradeoff necessarily violates a moral principle no matter what choice is made, as in tragic tradeoffs, its resolution should result in greater moral conflict and less confidence in choice than when the tradeoff offers (...) a moral escape route, as in taboo tradeoffs. We manipulated tradeoff type in between subjects design and confirmed the prediction that tragic tradeoffs prompt more conflict and less confidence than taboo tradeoffs. The findings further revealed that moral conflict mediated the effect of tradeoff type on confidence. The study sheds light on the manner in which human minds resolve moral problems involving social agents. (shrink)
The significance of counterfactual thinking in the causal judgement process has been emphasized for nearly two decades, yet no previous research has directly compared the relative effect of thinking counterfactually versus factually on causal judgement. Three experiments examined this comparison by manipulating the task frame used to focus participants' thinking about a target event. Prior to making judgements about causality, preventability, blame, and control, participants were directed to think about a target actor either in counterfactual terms (what the actor could (...) have done to change the outcome) or in factual terms (what the actor had done that led to the outcome). In each experiment, the effect of counterfactual thinking did not differ reliably from the effect of factual thinking on causal judgement. Implications for research on causal judgement and mental representation are discussed. (shrink)
Stanley Milgram's work on obedience to authority is social psychology's most influential contribution to theorizing about Holocaust perpetration. The gist of Milgram's claims is that Holocaust perpetrators were just following orders out of a sense of obligation to their superiors. Milgram, however, never undertook a scholarly analysis of how his obedience experiments related to the Holocaust. The author first discusses the major theoretical limitations of Milgram's position and then examines the implications of Milgram's experimental manipulations for Holocaust theorizing, contrasting a (...) specific case of Holocaust perpetration by Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police. It is concluded that Milgram's empirical findings, in fact, do not support his position - one that essentially constitutes an obedience alibi. The article ends with a discussion of some of the social dangers of the obedience alibi. (shrink)
In The Rational Imagination, Byrne proposes a mental models account of why causal and counterfactual thinking often focus on different antecedents. This review critically examines the two central propositions of her account, finding both only weakly defensible. Byrne's account is contrasted with judgment dissociation theory, which offers a functional explanation for differences in the focus of causal and counterfactual thinking.
Consistent with Barbey & Sloman (B&S), it is proposed that performance on Bayesian inference tasks is well explained by nested sets theory (NST). However, contrary to those authors' view, it is proposed that NST does better by dispelling with dual-systems assumptions. This article examines why, and sketches out a series of NST's core principles, which were not previously defined.
This research examined whether youth's forecasted risk taking is best predicted by a compensatory (namely, subjective expected utility) or non-compensatory (e.g., single-factor) model. Ninety youth assessed the importance of perceived benefits, importance of perceived drawbacks, subjective probability of benefits, and subjective probability of drawbacks for 16 risky behaviors clustered evenly into recreational and health/safety domains. In both domains, there was strong support for a noncompensatory model in which only the perceived importance of the benefits of engaging in a risky behavior (...) predicted youths' forecasted engagement in risky behavior. The study overcomes earlier methodological weaknesses by fully decomposing participants' assessments into importance and probability aspects for both benefits and drawbacks. As such, the findings provide clear evidence in support of a boundedrationality perspective on youth decision making regarding risk taking. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThe financial crisis of 2008 was unforeseen partly because the academic theories that underpin policy making do not sufficiently account for uncertainty and complexity or learned and evolved human capabilities for managing them. Mainstream theories of decision making tend to be strongly normative and based on wishfully unrealistic “idealized” modeling. In order to develop theories of actual decision making under uncertainty, we need new methodologies that account for how human actors often manage uncertain situations “well enough.” Some possibly helpful methodologies, (...) drawing on digital science, focus on the role of emotions in determining people's choices; others examine how people construct narratives that enable them to act; still others combine qualitative with quantitative data. (shrink)