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Crossed Wires: Blaming Artifacts for Bad Outcomes

Sytsma, Justin (2020) Crossed Wires: Blaming Artifacts for Bad Outcomes. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Philosophers and psychologists often assume that responsibility and blame only apply to certain agents. Sometimes this is nuanced by claiming that there are multiple ordinary concepts of blame and responsibility, with one set being purely descriptive while the other is distinctively moral, and with the latter applying just to certain agents. But do our ordinary concepts of responsibility and blame reflect these assumptions? In this paper, I investigate one recent debate where these assumptions have been applied—the back-and-forth over how to explain the impact of norms on ordinary causal attributions. I investigate one prominent case where it has been found that norms matter for causal attributions, but where it is claimed that responsibility and blame do not apply because the case involves artifacts. Across five studies (total N=1,393) more carefully investigating Hitchcock and Knobe’s (2009) Machine Case, I find that the same norm effect found for causal attributions is found for responsibility and blame attributions, with participants tending to ascribe both to a norm-violating artifact. Further, the evidence suggests that participants do so because they are applying broadly normative, but not distinctively moral, concepts.


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Item Type: Preprint
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Sytsma, Justin
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2020 01:02
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2020 01:02
Item ID: 18293
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Date: 1 July 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18293

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