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  1. Moral Rationalism on the Brain.Joshua May - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (1):237-255.
    I draw on neurobiological evidence to defend the rationalist thesis that moral judgments are essentially dependent on reasoning, not emotions (conceived as distinct from inference). The neuroscience reveals that moral cognition arises from domain-general capacities in the brain for inferring, in particular, the consequences of an agent’s action, the agent’s intent, and the rules or norms relevant to the context. Although these capacities entangle inference and affect, blurring the reason/emotion dichotomy doesn’t preferentially support sentimentalism. The argument requires careful consideration of (...)
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  • What Happened to the Trolley Problem?Florian Cova - 2017 - Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 34 (3):543-564.
    In this paper, I provide a general introduction to the trolley problem. I describe its birth as a philosophical thought experiment, then its successful career in moral psychology. I explain the different reasons behind its popularity and success but argue that, despite its popularity and widespread utilization in psychological research, few researchers have actually tried to directly solve it and that we are still ignorant of the real factors guiding our responses to trolley cases. Against the idea that trolley problems (...)
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  • When Push Comes to Shove—The Moral Fiction of Reason-Based Situational Control and the Embodied Nature of Judgment.Lasse T. Bergmann & Jennifer Wagner - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    It is a common socio-moral practice to appeal to reasons as a guiding force for one’s actions. However, it is an intriguing possibility that this practice is based on fiction: reasons cannot or do not motivate the majority of actions—especially moral ones. Rather, pre-reflective evaluative processes are likely responsible for moral actions. Such a view faces two major challenges: i.) pre-reflective judgements are commonly thought of as inflexible in nature, and thus they cannot be the cause of the varied judgements (...)
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  • The Neuroscience of Moral Judgment: Empirical and Philosophical Developments.Joshua May, Clifford I. Workman, Julia Haas & Hyemin Han - 2022 - In Felipe de Brigard & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (eds.), Neuroscience and philosophy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. pp. 17-47.
    We chart how neuroscience and philosophy have together advanced our understanding of moral judgment with implications for when it goes well or poorly. The field initially focused on brain areas associated with reason versus emotion in the moral evaluations of sacrificial dilemmas. But new threads of research have studied a wider range of moral evaluations and how they relate to models of brain development and learning. By weaving these threads together, we are developing a better understanding of the neurobiology of (...)
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  • The Limits of Emotion in Moral Judgment.Joshua May - 2018 - In Karen Jones & François Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. New York: Oxford Univerisity Press. pp. 286-306.
    I argue that our best science supports the rationalist idea that, independent of reasoning, emotions aren’t integral to moral judgment. There’s ample evidence that ordinary moral cognition often involves conscious and unconscious reasoning about an action’s outcomes and the agent’s role in bringing them about. Emotions can aid in moral reasoning by, for example, drawing one’s attention to such information. However, there is no compelling evidence for the decidedly sentimentalist claim that mere feelings are causally necessary or sufficient for making (...)
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  • How to Debunk Moral Beliefs.Victor Kumar & Joshua May - 2018 - In Jussi Suikkanen & Antti Kauppinen (eds.), Methodology and Moral Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 25-48.
    Arguments attempting to debunk moral beliefs, by showing they are unjustified, have tended to be global, targeting all moral beliefs or a large set of them. Popular debunking arguments point to various factors purportedly influencing moral beliefs, from evolutionary pressures, to automatic and emotionally-driven processes, to framing effects. We show that these sweeping arguments face a debunker’s dilemma: either the relevant factor is not a main basis for belief or it does not render the relevant beliefs unjustified. Empirical debunking arguments (...)
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  • Moral Reasoning and Emotion.Joshua May & Victor Kumar - 2018 - In Aaron Zimmerman, Karen Jones & Mark Timmons (eds.), Routledge Handbook on Moral Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 139-156.
    This chapter discusses contemporary scientific research on the role of reason and emotion in moral judgment. The literature suggests that moral judgment is influenced by both reasoning and emotion separately, but there is also emerging evidence of the interaction between the two. While there are clear implications for the rationalism-sentimentalism debate, we conclude that important questions remain open about how central emotion is to moral judgment. We also suggest ways in which moral philosophy is not only guided by empirical research (...)
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  • Developing an objective measure of knowledge of factory farming.Adam Feltz, Jacob N. Caton, Zac Cogley, Mylan Engel, Silke Feltz, Ramona Ilea, L. Syd M. Johnson & Tom Offer-Westort - 2022 - Philosophical Psychology 37 (2).
    Knowledge of human uses of animals is an important, but understudied, aspect of how humans treat animals. We developed a measure of one kind of knowledge of human uses of animals – knowledge of factory farming. Studies 1 (N = 270) and 2 (N = 270) tested an initial battery of objective, true or false statements about factory farming using Item Response Theory. Studies 3 (N = 241) and 4 (N = 278) provided evidence that responses to a 10-item Knowledge (...)
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  • Agency in Mental Disorder: Philosophical Dimensions.Matt King & Joshua May (eds.) - 2022 - Oxford University Press.
    How exactly do mental disorders affect one’s agency? How might therapeutic interventions help patients regain or improve their autonomy? Do only some disorders excuse morally inappropriate behavior, such as theft or child neglect? Or is there nothing about having a disorder, as such, that affects whether we ought to praise or blame someone for their moral success or failure? Our volume gathers together empirically-informed philosophers who are well equipped to tackle such questions. Contributors specialize in free will, agency, and responsibility, (...)
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  • Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - 2018 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    The burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we’re told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...)
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  • Précis of Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42 (e146):1-60.
    Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind argues that a careful examination of the scientific literature reveals a foundational role for reasoning in moral thought and action. Grounding moral psychology in reason then paves the way for a defense of moral knowledge and virtue against a variety of empirical challenges, such as debunking arguments and situationist critiques. The book attempts to provide a corrective to current trends in moral psychology, which celebrate emotion over reason and generate pessimism about the psychological (...)
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  • Effects of Instrumentality and Personal Force on Deontological and Utilitarian Inclinations in Harm-Related Moral Dilemmas.Jonas Ludwig, Rainer Reisenzein & Anette Hiemisch - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
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  • The Influence of Situational Factors in Sacrificial Dilemmas on Utilitarian Moral Judgments.Michael Klenk - 2022 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (3):593-625.
    The standard way to test alternative descriptive theories of moral judgment is by asking subjects to evaluate (amongst others) sacrificial dilemmas, where acting classifies as a utilitarian moral judgment and not acting classifies as a deontological moral judgment. Previous research uncovered many situational factors that alter subject’s moral judgments without affecting which type of action utilitarianism or deontology would recommend. This literature review provides a systematic analysis of the experimental literature on the influence of situational factors on moral judgments in (...)
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  • Zur Bedeutung von Absicht und Effekt bei der moralischen Verhaltensbewertung. Ein vergleichendes Argument für das Prinzip des Doppeleffekts.Moritz Heepe - 2022 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 76 (1):116-136.
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  • Der Knobe-Effekt als Doppeleffekt.Moritz Heepe - 2021 - Zeitschrift Für Ethik Und Moralphilosophie 4 (2):313-335.
    ZusammenfassungDem sogenannten Knobe-Effekt zufolge bestimmt die moralische Valenz von Nebeneffekten menschlichen Verhaltens die Zuschreibung ihrer absichtlichen Verursachung. Wir argumentieren, dass erstens die empirisch ermittelten sozialpsychologischen Daten den Knobe-Effekt in der üblichen Lesart nicht belegen, vor allem wegen der unvollständigen Untersuchung der entscheidenden moralischen Varianzfaktoren. Zweitens zeigen wir, dass - und wie - eine spezifische Version des traditionellen Prinzips des Doppeleffekts den empirisch bestätigten Teil des Knobe-Effekts philosophisch erklärt. Die Erklärungskraft des Prinzips des Doppeleffekts kann auch als eine Rechtfertigung eben dieses (...)
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  • How to weigh lives. A computational model of moral judgment in multiple-outcome structures.Neele Engelmann & Michael R. Waldmann - 2022 - Cognition 218 (C):104910.
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