Reversing the side-effect effect: the power of salient norms
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In the last decade, experimental philosophers have documented systematic asymmetries in the attributions of mental attitudes to agents who produce different types of side effects. We argue that this effect is driven not simply by the violation of a norm, but by salient-norm violation. As evidence for this hypothesis, we present two new studies in which two conflicting norms are present, and one or both of them is raised to salience. Expanding one’s view to these additional cases presents, we argue, a fuller conception of the side-effect effect, which can be reversed by reversing which norm is salient.
KeywordsSide effect Side-effect effect Knobe effect Norms Intentionality
We would like to thank the organizers of the Experiments in Ethical Dilemmas conference (Natalie Gold, Andrew Colman, and Briony Pulford) and the Buffalo Experimental Philosophy Conference (James Beebe, Paul Poenicke, and Neil Otte), where portions of this paper were presented. We would also like to thank Urs Fischbacher, Shaun Nichols, Florian Cova, Zachary Horne, Derek Powell, Jennifer Cole Wright, Alex Voorhoeve, Josh May, Joshua Alexander, Chad Gonnerman, John Waterman, John Turri, Wesley Buckwalter, and Genoveva Martí for their insightful comments and questions. Finally, we would like especially to thank Fiery Cushman for suggesting the methodology in Study II and advising its implementation.
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