Objective and epistemic gradability: Is the new angle on the Knobe effect empirically grounded?

Philosophical Psychology 32 (2):234-256 (2018)
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According to the New Angle, any explanation of the Knobe effect must be gradable and asymmetric. It has been argued that only Hindriks’ approach meets both criteria. First, we argue that Holton’s hypothesis also meets the criteria. Second, we show that the authors are not justified in taking the criteria to be empirically justified. We have failed to replicate the asymmetry result in two experiments. Moreover, gradability can be objective or epistemic. We show that the New Angle presupposes objective gradability. In our experiments, the patterns of responses to questions about epistemic and objective gradability are the same, irrespective of whether the feature is objectively gradable (e.g., blameworthiness) or not (e.g., intentionality). Our results thus question the extent to which the New Angle is empirically grounded. Moreover, they raise doubt whether the answers to questions about epistemic and objective gradability can be taken at face value at all.

Author Profiles

Tomasz Zyglewicz
CUNY Graduate Center
Bartosz Maćkiewicz
University of Warsaw


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