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Markus Kneer
University of Zürich
  1. No Luck for Moral Luck.Markus Kneer & Edouard Machery - 2019 - Cognition 182:331-348.
    Moral philosophers and psychologists often assume that people judge morally lucky and morally unlucky agents differently, an assumption that stands at the heart of the Puzzle of Moral Luck. We examine whether the asymmetry is found for reflective intuitions regarding wrongness, blame, permissibility, and punishment judg- ments, whether people’s concrete, case-based judgments align with their explicit, abstract principles regarding moral luck, and what psychological mechanisms might drive the effect. Our experiments produce three findings: First, in within-subjects experiments favorable to reflective (...)
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  2. The Content-Dependence of Imaginative Resistance.Hanna Kim, Markus Kneer & Michael T. Stuart - 2018 - In Florian Cova & Sébastien Réhault (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Aesthetics. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 143-166.
    An observation of Hume’s has received a lot of attention over the last decade and a half: Although we can standardly imagine the most implausible scenarios, we encounter resistance when imagining propositions at odds with established moral (or perhaps more generally evaluative) convictions. The literature is ripe with ‘solutions’ to this so-called ‘Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance’. Few, however, question the plausibility of the empirical assumption at the heart of the puzzle. In this paper, we explore empirically whether the difficulty we (...)
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  3. The Norm of Assertion: Empirical Data.Markus Kneer - 2018 - Cognition 177:165-171.
    Assertions are speech acts by means of which we express beliefs. As such they are at the heart of our linguistic and social practices. Recent research has focused extensively on the question whether the speech act of assertion is governed by norms, and if so, under what conditions it is acceptable to make an assertion. Standard theories propose, for instance, that one should only assert that p if one knows that p (the knowledge account), or that one should only assert (...)
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  4. Can a Robot Lie?Markus Kneer - manuscript
    The potential capacity for robots to deceive has received considerable attention recently. Many papers focus on the technical possibility for a robot to engage in deception for beneficial purposes (e.g. in education or health). In this short experimental paper, I focus on a more paradigmatic case: Robot lying (lying being the textbook example of deception) for nonbeneficial purposes as judged from the human point of view. More precisely, I present an empirical experiment with 399 participants which explores the following three (...)
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  5.  26
    Reasonableness on the Clapham Omnibus: Exploring the Outcome-Sensitive Folk Concept of Reasonable.Markus Kneer - forthcoming - In P. Bystranowski, Bartosz Janik & M. Prochnicki (eds.), Judicial Decision-Making: Integrating Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives. Springer Nature.
    This paper presents a series of studies (total N=579) which demonstrate that folk judgments concerning the reasonableness of decisions and actions depend strongly on whether they engender positive or negative consequences. A particular decision is deemed more reasonable in retrospect when it produces beneficial consequences than when it produces harmful consequences, even if the situation in which the decision was taken and the epistemic circumstances of the agent are held fixed across conditions. This finding is worrisome for the law, where (...)
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  6. Mens Rea Ascription, Expertise and Outcome Effects: Professional Judges Surveyed.Markus Kneer & Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde - 2017 - Cognition 169:139-146.
    A coherent practice of mens rea (‘guilty mind’) ascription in criminal law presupposes a concept of mens rea which is insensitive to the moral valence of an action’s outcome. For instance, an assessment of whether an agent harmed another person intentionally should be unaffected by the severity of harm done. Ascriptions of intentionality made by laypeople, however, are subject to a strong outcome bias. As demonstrated by the Knobe effect, a knowingly incurred negative side effect is standardly judged intentional, whereas (...)
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  7.  66
    Predicates of Personal Taste: Empirical Data.Markus Kneer - manuscript
    According to contextualism, the extension of claims of personal taste is dependent on the context of utterance. According to truth relativism, their extension depends on the context of assessment. On this view, when the tastes of a speaker change, so does the truth value of a previously uttered taste claim, and if it is false, the speaker is required to retract it. Both views make strong empirical assumptions, which are here put to the test for the first time in three (...)
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  8. Relativism About Predicates of Personal Taste and Perspectival Plurality.Markus Kneer, Agustin Vicente & Dan Zeman - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (1):37-60.
    In this paper we discuss a phenomenon we call perspectival plurality, which has gone largely unnoticed in the current debate between relativism and contextualism about predicates of personal taste. According to perspectival plurality, the truth value of a sentence containing more than one PPT may depend on more than one perspective. Prima facie, the phenomenon engenders a problem for relativism and can be shaped into an argument in favor of contextualism. We explore the consequences of perspectival plurality in depth and (...)
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  9.  47
    Predicates of Personal Taste, Semantic Incompleteness, and Necessitarianism.Markus Kneer - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-31.
    According to indexical contextualism, the perspectival element of taste predicates and epistemic modals is part of the content expressed. According to nonindexicalism, the perspectival element must be conceived as a parameter in the circumstance of evaluation, which engenders “thin” or perspective-neutral semantic contents. Echoing Evans, thin contents have frequently been criticized. It is doubtful whether such coarse-grained quasi-propositions can do any meaningful work as objects of propositional attitudes. In this paper, I assess recent responses by Recanati, Kölbel, Lasersohn and MacFarlane (...)
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  10. Perspective and Epistemic State Ascriptions.Markus Kneer - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (2):313-341.
    This article explores whether perspective taking has an impact on the ascription of epistemic states. To do so, a new method is introduced which incites participants to imagine themselves in the position of the protagonist of a short vignette and to judge from her perspective. In a series of experiments, perspective proves to have a significant impact on belief ascriptions, but not on knowledge ascriptions. For belief, perspective is further found to moderate the epistemic side-effect effect significantly. It is hypothesized (...)
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  11.  48
    Playing the Blame Game with Robots.Markus Kneer & Michael T. Stuart - 2021 - In Companion of the 2021 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI’21 Companion). New York, NY, USA:
    Recent research shows – somewhat astonishingly – that people are willing to ascribe moral blame to AI-driven systems when they cause harm [1]–[4]. In this paper, we explore the moral- psychological underpinnings of these findings. Our hypothesis was that the reason why people ascribe moral blame to AI systems is that they consider them capable of entertaining inculpating mental states (what is called mens rea in the law). To explore this hypothesis, we created a scenario in which an AI system (...)
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  12. Outcome Effects, Moral Luck and the Hindsight Bias.Markus Kneer & Iza Skoczeń - manuscript
    In a series of ten preregistered experiments (N=2043), we investigate the effect of outcome valence on judgments of probability, negligence, and culpability – a phenomenon sometimes labelled moral (and legal) luck. We found that harmful outcomes, when contrasted with neutral outcomes, lead to increased perceived probability of harm ex post, and consequently to increased attribution of negligence and culpability. Rather than simply postulating a hindsight bias (as is common), we employ a variety of empirical means to demonstrate that the outcome-driven (...)
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  13. Success and Knowledge in Action: Saving Anscombe’s Account of Intentionality.Markus Kneer - 2021 - In Tadeusz Ciecierski & Paweł Grabarczyk (eds.), Context Dependence in Language, Action, and Cognition. De Gruyter. pp. 131-154.
    According to Anscombe, acting intentionally entails knowledge in ac- tion. This thesis has been near-universally rejected due to a well-known counter- example by Davidson: a man intending to make ten legible carbon copies might not believe with confidence, and hence not know, that he will succeed. If he does, however, his action surely counts as intentional. Damaging as it seems, an even more powerful objection can be levelled against Anscombe: while act- ing, there is as yet no fact of the (...)
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  14.  54
    Can Artificial Intelligence Make Art?Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė & Markus Kneer - manuscript
    In two experiments (total N=693) we explored whether people are willing to consider paintings made by AI-driven robots as art, and robots as artists. Across the two experiments, we manipulated three factors: (i) agent type (AI-driven robot v. human agent), (ii) behavior type (intentional creation of a painting v. accidental creation), and (iii) object type (abstract v. representational painting). We found that people judge robot paintings and human painting as art to roughly the same extent. However, people are much less (...)
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