Hanno Sauer ‘The Responsibility Attribution Error’, May 15, 16:45-18:30 DZ10


In this paper, we argue that the so-called Knobe-Effect constitutes an error. There is now a wealth of data confirming that people are highly prone to what has also come to be known as the ‘side-effect effect’. That is, when attributing psychological states – such as intentionality, foreknowledge, and desiring – as well as other agential features – such as causal control – people typically do so to a greater extent when the action under consideration is evaluated negatively. There are a plethora of models attempting to account for this effect. We hold that the central question of interest is whether the effect represents a competence or an error in judgment. We offer a systematic argument for the claim that the burden of proof regarding this question is on the competence theorist, and develop our own account based on the notion of the reactive attitudes. This model can accommodate both the idea that these sorts of judgments are fundamentally normative and that they often constitute errors.

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