Moral Bookkeeping

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10 (2023)
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There is widespread agreement among philosophers about the Mens Rea Asymmetry (MRA), according to which praise requires intent, whereas blame does not. However, there is evidence showing that MRA is descriptively inadequate. We hypothesize that the violations of MRA found in the experimental literature are due to what we call “moral compositionality,” by which we mean that people evaluate the component parts of a moral problem separately and then reach an overall verdict by aggregating the verdicts on the component parts. We have subjected this hypothesis to the test and here report the results of our experiment. We explore several explanations of the experimental findings and conclude that they present a puzzle to moral theory.



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Author Profiles

Frank Hindriks
University of Groningen
Igor Douven
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Person as scientist, person as moralist.Joshua Knobe - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (4):315.
Control, responsibility, and moral assessment.Angela M. Smith - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (3):367 - 392.
Theory of Probability.Harold Jeffreys - 1940 - Philosophy of Science 7 (2):263-264.

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