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Resituating the Relevance of Alternatives for Attributions

Sytsma, Justin (2023) Resituating the Relevance of Alternatives for Attributions. [Preprint]

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Phillips et al. (2015) provide what looks like compelling evidence in favor of explaining the impact of broadly moral evaluations on causal attributions in terms of the relevance of alternative possibilities. As part of a series of manipulation studies, they found that asking participants to describe what an agent could have done differently in a neutral case (a case in which information about broadly moral considerations was removed) showed a similar effect on causal attributions to varying the morality of the agent’s action. Phillips and colleagues take this to show that broadly moral evaluations impact the alternative possibilities people see as relevant, which in turn impact their attributions. This study leaves 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 using the same manipulation method. The results support the alternative model, indicating that the mechanism proposed by Phillips et al. cannot be presumed.

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Item Type: Preprint
Sytsma, Justin
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 5.
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2023 16:40
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2023 16:40
Item ID: 21873
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Date: 14 March 2023

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