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  1. Morality Constrains the Default Representation of What is Possible.Jonathan Phillips & Fiery Cushman - 2017 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (18):4649-4654.
    The capacity for representing and reasoning over sets of possibilities, or modal cognition, supports diverse kinds of high-level judgments: causal reasoning, moral judgment, language comprehension, and more. Prior research on modal cognition asks how humans explicitly and deliberatively reason about what is possible but has not investigated whether or how people have a default, implicit representation of which events are possible. We present three studies that characterize the role of implicit representations of possibility in cognition. Collectively, these studies differentiate explicit (...)
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  • Omissions and Expectations: A New Approach to the Things We Failed to Do.Pascale Willemsen - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1587-1614.
    Imagine you and your friend Pierre agreed on meeting each other at a café, but he does not show up. What is the difference between a friend’s not showing up meeting? and any other person not coming? In some sense, all people who did not come show the same kind of behaviour, but most people would be willing to say that the absence of a friend who you expected to see is different in kind. In this paper, I will spell (...)
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  • Thinking Like a Scientist: Innateness as a Case Study.Joshua Knobe & Richard Samuels - 2013 - Cognition 126 (1):72-86.
    The concept of innateness appears in systematic research within cognitive science, but it also appears in less systematic modes of thought that long predate the scientific study of the mind. The present studies therefore explore the relationship between the properly scientific uses of this concept and its role in ordinary folk understanding. Studies 1-4 examined the judgments of people with no specific training in cognitive science. Results showed (a) that judgments about whether a trait was innate were not affected by (...)
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  • Folk Intuitions, Asymmetry, and Intentional Side Effects.Jason Turner - 2004 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 24 (2):214-219.
    An agent S wants to A and knows that if she A-s she will also bring about B. S does not care at all about B. S then A-s, also bringing about B. Did she intentionally bring B about? Joshua Knobe (2003b) has recently argued that, according to the folk concept of intentional action, the answer depends on B's moral significance. In particular, if B is reprehensible, people are more likely to say that S intentionally brought it about. Knobe defends (...)
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  • Person as Scientist, Person as Moralist.Joshua Knobe - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (4):315.
    It has often been suggested that people’s ordinary capacities for understanding the world make use of much the same methods one might find in a formal scientific investigation. A series of recent experimental results offer a challenge to this widely-held view, suggesting that people’s moral judgments can actually influence the intuitions they hold both in folk psychology and in causal cognition. The present target article distinguishes two basic approaches to explaining such effects. One approach would be to say that the (...)
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  • The Concept of Innateness as an Object of Empirical Enquiry.Richard Samuels - 2016 - In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell. pp. 504-519.
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  • The Social Origin and Moral Nature of Human Thinking.Jeremy I. M. Carpendale, Stuart I. Hammond & Charlie Lewis - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (4):334.
    Knobe's laudable conclusion that we make sense of our social world based on moral considerations requires a development account of human thought and a theoretical framework. We outline a view that such a moral framework must be rooted in social interaction.
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  • Laypersons’ Beliefs and Intuitions About Free Will and Determinism: New Insights Linking the Social Psychology and Experimental Philosophy Paradigms.Gilad Feldman & Subramanya Prasad Mgmt Chandrashekar - 2018 - Social Psychological and Personality Science 1 (9):539-549.
    We linked between the social-psychology and experimental-philosophy paradigms for the study of folk intuitions and beliefs regarding the concept of free will to answer three questions: (1) what intuitions do people have about free-will and determinism? (2) do free will beliefs predict differences in free-will and determinism intuitions? and (3) is there more to free-will and determinism than experiencing certainty or uncertainty about the nature of the universe? Overall, laypersons viewed the universe as allowing for human indeterminism, and they did (...)
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  • Bad is Freer Than Good: Positive–Negative Asymmetry in Attributions of Free Will.Gilad Feldman, Kin Fai Ellick Wong & Roy F. Baumeister - 2016 - Consciousness and Cognition 42:26-40.
    Recent findings support the idea that the belief in free will serves as the basis for moral responsibility, thus promoting the punishment of immoral agents. We theorized that free will extends beyond morality to serve as the basis for accountability and the capacity for change more broadly, not only for others but also for the self. Five experiments showed that people attributed higher freedom of will to negative than to positive valence, regardless of morality or intent, for both self and (...)
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  • The Psychological Representation of Modality.Jonathan Phillips & Joshua Knobe - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):1-.
    A series of recent studies have explored the impact of people's judgments regarding physical law, morality, and probability. Surprisingly, such studies indicate that these three apparently unrelated types of judgments often have precisely the same impact. We argue that these findings provide evidence for a more general hypothesis about the kind of cognition people use to think about possibilities. Specifically, we suggest that this aspect of people's cognition is best understood using an idea developed within work in the formal semantics (...)
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  • The Good in Happiness.Jonathan Phillips, Sven Nyholm & Shen-yi Liao - 2014 - In Tania Lombrozo, Shaun Nichols & Joshua Knobe (eds.), Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 253–293.
    There has been a long history of arguments over whether happiness is anything more than a particular set of psychological states. On one side, some philosophers have argued that there is not, endorsing a descriptive view of happiness. Affective scientists have also embraced this view and are reaching a near consensus on a definition of happiness as some combination of affect and life-satisfaction. On the other side, some philosophers have maintained an evaluative view of happiness, on which being happy involves (...)
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  • Sticky Situations: 'Force' and Quantifier Domains.Matthew Mandelkern & Jonathan Phillips - forthcoming - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 28.
    When do we judge that someone was forced to do what they did? One relatively well-established finding is that subjects tend to judge that agents were not forced to do actions when those actions violate norms. A surprising discovery of Young & Phillips 2011 is that this effect seems to disappear when we frame the relevant ‘force’-claim in the active rather than passive voice ('X forced Y to φ ' vs. 'Y was forced to φ by X'). Young and Phillips (...)
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  • Unifying Morality’s Influence on Non-Moral Judgments: The Relevance of Alternative Possibilities.Jonathan Phillips, Jamie B. Luguri & Joshua Knobe - 2015 - Cognition 145:30-42.
    Past work has demonstrated that people’s moral judgments can influence their judgments in a number of domains that might seem to involve straightforward matters of fact, including judgments about freedom, causation, the doing/allowing distinction, and intentional action. The present studies explore whether the effect of morality in these four domains can be explained by changes in the relevance of alternative possibilities. More precisely, we propose that moral judgment influences the degree to which people regard certain alternative possibilities as relevant, which (...)
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  • Moral Judgment as Information Processing: An Integrative Review.Steve Guglielmo - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • Modals with a Taste of the Deontic.Zoltán Gendler Szabó & Joshua Knobe - 2013 - Semantics and Pragmatics 6 (1):1-42.
    The aim of this paper is to present an explanation for the impact of normative considerations on people’s assessment of certain seemingly purely descriptive matters. The explanation is based on two main claims. First, a large category of expressions are tacitly modal: they are contextually equivalent to modal proxies. Second, the interpretation of predominantly circumstantial or teleological modals is subject to certain constraints which make certain possibilities salient at the expense of others.
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  • Beliefs About the True Self Explain Asymmetries Based on Moral Judgment.George E. Newman, Julian De Freitas & Joshua Knobe - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (1):96-125.
    Past research has identified a number of asymmetries based on moral judgments. Beliefs about what a person values, whether a person is happy, whether a person has shown weakness of will, and whether a person deserves praise or blame seem to depend critically on whether participants themselves find the agent's behavior to be morally good or bad. To date, however, the origins of these asymmetries remain unknown. The present studies examine whether beliefs about an agent's “true self” explain these observed (...)
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  • Blame, Not Ability, Impacts Moral “Ought” Judgments for Impossible Actions: Toward an Empirical Refutation of “Ought” Implies “Can”.Vladimir Chituc, Paul Henne, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Felipe De Brigard - 2016 - Cognition 150:20-25.
    Recently, psychologists have explored moral concepts including obligation, blame, and ability. While little empirical work has studied the relationships among these concepts, philosophers have widely assumed such a relationship in the principle that “ought” implies “can,” which states that if someone ought to do something, then they must be able to do it. The cognitive underpinnings of these concepts are tested in the three experiments reported here. In Experiment 1, most participants judge that an agent ought to keep a promise (...)
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  • Explanatory Unification in Experimental Philosophy: Let’s Keep It Real.Frank Hindriks - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (1):219-242.
    Experimental philosophers have discovered a large number of asymmetries in our intuitions about philosophically significant notions. Often those intuitions turned out to be sensitive to normative factors. Whereas optimists have insisted on a unified explanation of these findings, pessimists have argued that it is impossible to formulate a single factor explanation. I defend the intermediate position according to which unification is possible to some extent, but should be pursued within limits. The key issue that I address is how it is (...)
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  • Normativity in Action: How to Explain the Knobe Effect and its Relatives.Frank Hindriks - 2014 - Mind and Language 29 (1):51-72.
    Intuitions about intentional action have turned out to be sensitive to normative factors: most people say that an indifferent agent brings about an effect of her action intentionally when it is harmful, but unintentionally when it is beneficial. Joshua Knobe explains this asymmetry, which is known as ‘the Knobe effect’, in terms of the moral valence of the effect, arguing that this explanation generalizes to other asymmetries concerning notions as diverse as deciding and being free. I present an alternative explanation (...)
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  • The Paradox of Moral Focus.Liane Young & Jonathan Phillips - 2011 - Cognition 119 (2):166-178.
    When we evaluate moral agents, we consider many factors, including whether the agent acted freely, or under duress or coercion. In turn, moral evaluations have been shown to influence our (non-moral) evaluations of these same factors. For example, when we judge an agent to have acted immorally, we are subsequently more likely to judge the agent to have acted freely, not under force. Here, we investigate the cognitive signatures of this effect in interpersonal situations, in which one agent (“forcer”) forces (...)
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