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Adam Feltz
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Josh May and I are conducting a meta-analysis on judgments related to the Doctrine of Double Effect. In particular, we are interested in seeing if the byproduct/means distinction is reflected in everyday moral judgments. The classic cases that illustrate the byproduct/means distinction are the Bystander and Footbridge cases (respectively). Or... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2016 at Experimental Philosophy
I am accepting applications for funded graduate students in the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors PhD program at Michigan Technological University. The students will work in the Ethical Decision-making and Ethical Naturalism Lab ( where research focuses on implications of individual differences in philosophical beliefs, medical/financial/legal decision making, and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2013 at Experimental Philosophy
My paper with Edward Cokely entitled “Predicting Philosophical Disagreement” is now out in Philosophy Compass. It puts in one accessible piece the work we’ve done over the past several years showing that heritable personality traits predict disagreement in a number of philosophical domains, even among verifiable experts. In the article... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2013 at Experimental Philosophy
Hi Geoff, Thanks for your comment! I'll see if I can address those questions. Yes, we are interested in both significant and non-significant results. Actually, all data relevant to the meta-analyses would be great. We've done the the literature review, so sending us stuff that is already in print is unnecessary. But people can contact us to check and see if we've included their data in the meta-analysis just to be safe. Yes, we would be interested in data from papers currently under review. And thanks for the tips on the other resources!
Florian Cova and I are working on finishing up a meta-analysis about the role affect plays in free will and moral responsibility judgments. We are examining the effect first identified by Nichols and Knobe 2007 ( We are hoping to include studies that some of you have done but have... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2013 at Experimental Philosophy
When we gave participants both high and low affect scenarios, they tended to be incompatibilists (the Feltz et al paper). However, when we gave them only one of the scenarios and we didn't replicate the effect, they tended to be compatibilists in both scenarios. But affect does do some work pushing around the types of justifications people offer—you can see the effect in one of our forthcoming papers: .
Hey Florian, Edward and I have had some problems replicating the result from our labs. We have managed to replicate it a few times, but many more times we've failed. From our perspective, this is likely because the paradigm is not very well suited to detecting this difference. Given the number of times we've seen the effect (and given the theory and other data), I'd guess there is likely something to it but again this particular paradigm isn't very reliable (only produces a relatively small effect that is only 3-4% of the variance).
For what it's worth, Tamler convinced me in New Orleans to move beyond the "industry standard." So, our lab has just finished up a first round of studies based on Pereboom's Four Cases (thanks to Tamler for help with these). We have the data and are just trying to find time to analyze them.
Hi Joachim, Isn't checking to make sure that intuitions are not related to personality in undesirable ways the prudent and intellectually responsible thing to do? It seems to me that the case-by-case restriction is not very responsible – especially when there are documented biases in some expert philosophically relevant intuitions. We know that personality is pervasive and likely to be related to many philosophically relevant intuitions. Now, if I understand your advice, in the absence of evidence that the intuitions I am using are subject to undesirable biases, it's OK for me to continue using those intuitions. But I know that my intuitions may be biased in unwanted ways – and this is not only merely possible, it has a non-trivial chance of being actual. I could simply ignore this worry. But then my subsequent view might be biased in ways I don't want it to be. This worry could have been addressed by checking out those intuitions from the very start. So, the “ignore and hope” advice just doesn't strike me as very good advice.
What neat results! I'm of course a big fan of the individual differences approach. For whatever it's worth, Edward Cokely and I have been collecting data on sex for nearly all of our experiments for more than 4 years. We also routinely check for sex effects and I don't remember having found anything like the widespread effects you are reporting. When we do find some, the effect sizes are fairly modest. So, I agree with the others that replication would really be wonderful!
Thomas, Thanks for your comment! I probably wasn't clear enough in the original post. We do think that the results are in part generated by actor-observer differences. For example, the fact that actors judge harmful consequences were less intended or intentional than helpful consequences is likely the result of actor-observer differences. However, we did not find any significant differences when observers judged those same behaviors. We should expect that observers would judge helpful consequences of behaviors as less intended and intentional than harmful consequences, but we didn't find that. The latter result may indicate that Knobe-style effects only occur in hypothetical situations (this needs to be tested much further). I did manage to get a copy of Sarah's paper—really neat results and design (thanks for the suggestion!). It looks like we have data that converge on the same basic effect! Yes, Edward and I did do some stuff with actor-observer differences, but it was largely a follow-up to our (Nadelhoffer & Feltz, 2008: actor-observer paper regarding some moral intuitions. There, we crossed actor/observer moral judgments with hi/lo CRT (if people are interested, the paper reporting those results is here: Feltz & Cokely, 2008 I don't think we've done anything on actor-observer differences since.