Category: Experimental Philosophy

“Reversing the Side-Effect Effect”: Now published in Philosophical Studies

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.49.16 AMMy article “Reversing the Side-Effect Effect” has just come out in Philosophical Studies 172 (1): 177-206. This was authored with Paul Stey and Mark Alfano. In the paper, we demonstrate that we can control the effect by changing what norm is made salient. Norms set expectations it appears. If one’s side effect violate those norm-based expectations, we tend to say that side effect was intentional. There are a number of philosophical issues this raise pertaining to intentionality and other psychological states like belief, knowledge, and desire. You can read the extended summary here in my previous post.


One-Year Update on Intellectual Humility

We are now one year in to our two-year grant to study Intellectual Humility: The Elusive Virtue. So we thought it was time for an update, especially since there was our mid-point conference in St. Louis this week with all the intellectual humility (IH) grant awardees presenting as well. We’ve done a lot in our first year, much is still going on, and some exciting work remains for our second

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Reversing the Side-Effect Effect

Some of you are already familiar with the Side-Effect Effect by now. In a new article forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, Paul Stey, Mark Alfano, and I demonstrate that we can reverse the effect and therefore explain what the effect is as never before possible.

Tony Hayward

Tony Hayward – former CEO of BP (credit: Justin Thomas)

First discovered by Joshua Knobe (and hence sometimes called the Knobe Effect), the effect’s hallmark is an asymmetric attribution of some psychological state or other. In Knobe’s original study, the chairman of the board alternately harms or helps the environment as a side-effect of a new profit-increasing program. Knobe found an asymmetric pattern of attributions of intentionality in the two cases: the folk said he intentionally harmed the environment, but he didn’t intentionally help it. Since this seminal work, a literature on the effect has developed, expanding it in terms of the states asymmetrically attributed (intentionality, desires, beliefs, knowledge, etc.) and the type of norm involved (moral, legal, prudential, aesthetic, descriptive, etc.). As the literature on the effect has expanded, it has become increasingly difficult to precisely characterize the nature of the effect. While it initially looked like people were more willing to say a morally bad side effect was intentional, that interpretation doesn’t hold up since the asymmetry is present in studies involving on non-moral norms. So what is the Side-Effect Effect anyway? How do we describe it? We can already say that the effect refers to the asymmetric attribution rates for various psychological states, but based on what? When are the attribution rates higher or lower? Continue reading

forthcoming in Philosophical Studies

Philosophical Studies has just accepted my co-authored paper “Reversing the Side-Effect Effect: The Power of Norm Salience.” I am the lead author with Paul Stey (Notre Dame) and Mark Alfano (Oregon). I’ll post more later in the week about the paper.

Published: Virtue and Vice in the Business Context

Recently, I was the lead author of the paper “Virtue and Vice in the Business Context: An Empirical Investigation” with Paul Stey and Mark Alfano. It has just come out in the Journal of Business Ethics.

Two-Year Grant Awarded for Intellectual Humility

I’m very pleased to announce that my research team and I have been awarded a two-year grant to fund our research project Intellectual Humility: The Elusive Virtue. We’re very excited for this opportunity and I will post here as our project unfolds. You can read the details of our project in my previous post.

Intellectual Humility: Grant Proposal

After seven months, my colleagues and I have completed and submitted our proposal for a two-year grant to study intellectual humility. We were named among the finalists last fall by Fuller Seminary, which will fund sixteen projects to investigate the science of intellectual humility. Our proposal claims that intellectual humility is the “elusive virtue,” and so more difficult to examine than other virtues. The reason is simple: prima facie anyone who claims to be humble probably isn’t. So it seems unlikely that self-reporting would be a reliable method for measuring the trait of intellectual humility. Therefore a new method of measuring this trait is needed, and we’ve got an idea on how to do exactly that.

Update (3/1/13): We have been awarded the grant! Work starts next month… Continue reading

Another Article to be Published!

(Originally published Oct 30, 2012)

I love reporting good news.  I just had an article accepted for publication.

Update (3/29/13): The article has just come out online first here.

Last winter, I was the lead author for a paper titled “Virtue and Vice Attributions in the Business Context: An Experimental Investigation” (co-authored with Paul Stey and Mark Alfano).  We just got word that the paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Business Ethics special issue “Putting Virtues into Practice. A Challenge for Business and Organizations.”

There will be, of course, some final tweaks and revisions before publishing.  But I’ll post a (nearly) final draft soon.  In the meantime, you can read the summary of the talk in Buffalo on part of the paper.

Virtue, Vice, and the Knobe Effect: or What Mark Alfano and I said in Buffalo

(Originally published Oct 9, 2012)

I’ve just returned from the Buffalo Experimental Philosophy Conference.1 Mark Alfano and I presented excerpts from our paper on “Virtue and Vice in the Business Context” (currently under review), focusing on attributions of compassion and callousness in the business context and how it mediates consumer behavior. (Our co-author Paul Stey, Ph.D. candidate and stat master, was not able to attend.)

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