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Intention, Temporal Order, and Moral Judgments

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The traditional philosophical doctrine of double effect claims that agents’ intentions affect whether acts are morally wrong. Our behavioral study reveals that agents’ intentions do affect whether acts are judged morally wrong, whereas the temporal order of good and bad effects affects whether acts are classified as killings. This finding suggests that the moral judgments are not based on the classifications. Our results also undermine recent claims that prior moral judgments determine whether agents are seen as causing effects intentionally rather than as side effects.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of Utah 2: Undergraduate, Philosophy DepartmentDartmouth College 3: Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesDartmouth College

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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