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Causal Attributions and the Trolley Problem

Sytsma, Justin and Livengood, Jonathan (2019) Causal Attributions and the Trolley Problem. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this paper, we consider two competing explanations of the empirical finding that people’s causal attributions are responsive to normative details, such as whether an agent’s action violated an injunctive norm—the counterfactual view and the responsibility view. We then present experimental evidence that uses the trolley dilemma in a new way to investigate causal attribution. In the switch version of the trolley problem, people judge that the agent ought to flip the switch, but they also judge that she is more responsible for the resulting outcome when she does so than when she refrains. As predicted by the responsibility view, but not the counterfactual view, people are more likely to say that the agent caused the outcome when she flips the switch.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sytsma, Justin
Livengood, Jonathan
Keywords: causal attributions, actual causation, responsibility, counterfactual, trolley problem
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2019 04:32
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2019 04:32
Item ID: 16200
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Date: 9 July 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16200

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