Cognition 206:104501 (2021)

Authors
Stefan Schubert
Lund University (PhD)
Andreas Mogensen
Oxford University
Abstract
Across eight experiments (N = 2310), we studied whether people would prioritize rescuing individuals who may be thought to contribute more to society. We found that participants were generally dismissive of general rules that prioritize more socially beneficial individuals, such as doctors instead of unemployed people. By contrast, participants were more supportive of one-off decisions to save the life of a more socially beneficial individual, even when such cases were the same as those covered by the rule. This generality effect occurred robustly even when controlling for various factors. It occurred when the decision-maker was the same in both cases, when the pairs of people differing in the extent of their indirect social utility was varied, when the scenarios were varied, when the participant samples came from different countries, and when the general rule only covered cases that are exactly the same as the situation described in the one-off condition. The effect occurred even when the general rule was introduced via a concrete precedent case. Participants' tendency to be more supportive of the one-off proposal than the general rule was significantly reduced when they evaluated the two proposals jointly as opposed to separately. Finally, the effect also occurred in sacrificial moral dilemmas, a general phenomenon occurring in multiple moral contexts. We discuss possible explanations of the effect, including concerns about negative consequences of the rule and a deontological aversion against making difficult trade-off decisions unless they are absolutely necessary.
Keywords Construal level  Deontology  Moral judgment  Utilitarianism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104501
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,226
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.
Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.
Construal-Level Theory of Psychological Distance.Yaacov Trope & Nira Liberman - 2010 - Psychological Review 117 (2):440-463.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Preference Toward Identified Victims and Rescue Duties.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (2):25-27.
Terrorism, Secularism, and the Deaths of Innocents.John P. Reeder - 2011 - Journal for Peace and Justice Studies 21 (2):70-94.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2020-11-05

Total views
11 ( #849,411 of 2,499,703 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,066 of 2,499,703 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes