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30 January 2010

Norms and the Knobe Effect

via Experimental Philosophy by Richard Holton on 1/28/10

People might be interested in a short piece on the Knobe effect that I have forthcoming in Analysis. The basic idea uses two premises:

(i) there is an asymmetry between intentionally violating a norm and intentionally conforming to a norm. Intentional violation just requires knowing violation: when one knowingly violates a norm, one is expressly not letting the norm guide one's actions. In contrast, intentionally conforming to a norm requires one to treat the norm as a guide.

(ii) in making ascriptions to agents we are greatly influenced by whether or not they  have intentionally violated or followed a norm. So, for instance, in judging whether someone has intentionally brought about some outcome, we are influenced by whether, in bringing about that outcome, they have intentionally violated or followed a norm.

The proposal then is that the various manifestations of the Knobe effect can be economically explained using these two premises. And the explanation extends not just to the original findings, but to the asymmetries that have been discovered in a host of other ascriptions. There's no new empirical work I'm afraid, but anyone interested in this interpretation of others' findings can read it here.

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

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