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Friday, December 18, 2015

The Centrality of Belief and Reflection in Knobe Effect Cases: A Unified Account of the Data

By Mark Alfano, James R. Beebe, and Brian Robinson
The Monist
April 2012


Recent work in experimental philosophy has shown that people are more likely to attribute intentionality, knowledge, and other psychological properties to someone who causes a bad side-effect than to someone who causes a good one. We argue that all of these asymmetries can be explained in terms of a single underlying asymmetry involving belief attribution because the  belief that one’s action would result in a certain side-effect is a necessary component of each of the psychological attitudes in question. We argue further that this belief-attribution asymmetry is rational because it mirrors a belief-formation asymmetry and that the belief-formation asymmetry is also rational because it is more useful to form some beliefs than others.