Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 293–308 | Cite as

Explaining the Effect of Morality on Intentionality of Lucky Actions: The Role of Underlying Questions

  • Kate FalkenstienEmail author


People’s moral judgments affect their judgments of intentionality for actions that succeeded by luck. This article aimed to explain that phenomenon by suggesting that people’s judgments of intentionality are driven by the underlying questions they have considered. We examined two types of questions: questions about why people act, and questions about how they succeed in acting. In a series of experiments, we found that people prefer different questions for neutral and immoral actions (Studies 1 and 2) and that asking them to think about questions they would not have preferred can change their judgments of intentionality (Study 3). These experiments suggest that neutral actions are judged to be less intentional simply because they do not motivate observers to ask questions which draw attention to the actor’s mental states. We discuss the potential application of this framework to other concepts affected by morality in surprising ways, such as causality.


Immoral Condition Neutral Condition Immoral Action Neutral Action Intentionality Rating 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Stanford University, Law SchoolStanfordUSA

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