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PPE Talk: Markus Kneer (Pittsburgh)
February 11, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
“Judging Bias: Some Experimental Results”
Philosophers have traditionally held that whether or not an action counts as intentional is independent of moral considerations. Research conducted by Joshua Knobe and colleagues has shown that the philosophically uninitiated do not seem to share this view. A knowingly incurred morally bad side-effect of an agent’s main action, it turns out, is standardly viewed as intentional. A knowingly incurred morally good side-effect, however, is not viewed as intentional. There hence seem to be two competing views of intentional action: One unaffected by moral considerations, predominantly held by philosophers, and the ‘folk concept of intentional action’ which is morally charged.
Though the effect has been widely replicated, next to no work has been done in the area where it matters most: Jurisprudence and the law. Do judges ascribe intentionality – the most fundamental mens rea (attribution of a ‘guilty mind’) – in ways consistent with the folk concept, or do they judge like philosophers? I will discuss the implications of either possibility and present data from experiments with professional French judges, which reveals on which side of the fence their intuitions fall.
Pizza will be provided!