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Resituating the Influence of Relevant Alternatives on Attributions

Sytsma, Justin (2020) Resituating the Influence of Relevant Alternatives on Attributions. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Phillips et al. (2015) provide what looks like compelling evidence in favor of explaining the impact of broadly moral evaluations on a range of attributions in terms of the relevance of alternative possibilities. In a series of manipulation studies, they found that asking participants to describe what an agent could have done differently in neutral cases (cases in which information about broadly moral considerations was removed) showed a similar effect to varying the morality of the agent’s action. Phillips et al. take this to show that broadly moral evaluations impact the alternative possibilities people see as relevant, which in turn impact their attributions. These studies leave open the possibility that the manipulation impacts people’s broadly moral evaluations which in turn impact their attributions, however, rather than directly impacting their attributions. But this alternative model conflicts with Phillips et al.’s account, while being compatible with competing explanations. These two models are tested for causal attributions using the same manipulation method. Against Phillips et al.’s model, the results suggest that the influence of relevant alternative possibilities on causal attributions works primarily through people’s broadly moral evaluations.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
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Sytsma, Justin
Keywords: Causal Attributions, Causation, Norms, Responsibility, Alternative Possibilities
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 29 Feb 2020 05:56
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2020 05:56
Item ID: 16957
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Date: 29 February 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16957

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