Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 171–185

Action, Attitude, and the Knobe Effect: Another Asymmetry


DOI: 10.1007/s13164-011-0079-7

Cite this article as:
Shepherd, J. Rev.Phil.Psych. (2012) 3: 171. doi:10.1007/s13164-011-0079-7


A majority of people regard the harmful side-effects of an agent’s behavior as much more intentional than an agent’s helpful side-effects. In this paper, I present evidence for a related asymmetry. When a side-effect action is an instance of harming, folk ascriptions are significantly impacted by the relative badness of either an agent’s main goal or her side-effect action, but not her attitude. Yet when a side-effect action is an instance of helping, folk ascriptions are sensitive to an agent’s expressed attitude, but not to the relative goodness of her main goal or side-effect. It seems that the connection between harmful side-effects and intentionality is, for many, uniquely impervious to the expressed attitude of the agent in question.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA