Telling More Than We Can Know About Intentional Action

Mind and Language 26 (3):353-380 (2011)
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Abstract

Recently, a number of philosophers have advanced a surprising conclusion: people's judgments about whether an agent brought about an outcome intentionally are pervasively influenced by normative considerations. In this paper, we investigate the ‘Chairman case’, an influential case from this literature and disagree with this conclusion. Using a statistical method called structural path modeling, we show that people's attributions of intentional action to an agent are driven not by normative assessments, but rather by attributions of underlying values and characterological dispositions to the agent. In a second study, we examined people's judgments about what they think drives asymmetric intuitions in the Chairman case and found that people are highly inaccurate in identifying which features of the case their intuitions track. In the final part of the paper, we discuss how the statistical methods used in this study can help philosophers with the critical features problem, the problem of figuring out which among the myriad features present in hypothetical cases are the critical ones that our intuitions are responsive to. We show how the methods used in this study have some advantages over both armchair methods used by traditional philosophers and survey methods used by experimental philosophers

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Chandra Sripada
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Citations of this work

Explaining Away Incompatibilist Intuitions.Dylan Murray & Eddy Nahmias - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):434-467.
Character and theory of mind: an integrative approach.Evan Westra - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (5):1217-1241.
Experimental Philosophy is Cognitive Science.Joshua Knobe - 2016 - In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Malden, MA: Wiley. pp. 37–52.

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References found in this work

The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.

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