•  1623
    Philosophical tradition has long held that free will is necessary for moral responsibility. We report experimental results that show that the folk do not think free will is necessary for moral responsibility. Our results also suggest that experimental investigation of the relationship is ill served by a focus on incompatibilism versus compatibilism. We propose an alternative framework for empirical moral psychology in which judgments of free will and moral responsibility can vary independently i…Read more
  •  462
    Moral objectivism and a punishing God
    Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 80 1-7. 2019.
    Many moral philosophers have assumed that ordinary folk embrace moral objectivism. But, if so, why do folk embrace objectivism? One possibility is the pervasive connection between religion and morality in ordinary life. Some theorists contend that God is viewed as a divine guarantor of right and wrong, rendering morality universal and absolute. But is belief in God per se sufficient for moral objectivism? In this paper, we present original research exploring the connections between metaethics an…Read more
  •  311
  •  236
    Philosophers of mind typically group experiential states together and distinguish these from intentional states on the basis of their purportedly obvious phenomenal character. Sytsma and Machery (Phil Stud 151(2): 299–327, 2010) challenge this dichotomy by presenting evidence that non-philosophers do not classify subjective experiences relative to a state’s phenomenological character, but rather by its valence. However we argue that S&M’s results do not speak to folk beliefs about the nature of …Read more
  •  201
    Analytic Functionalism and Mental State Attribution
    Philosophical Topics 40 (2): 129-154. 2012.
    We argue that the causal account offered by analytic functionalism provides the best account of the folk psychological theory of mind, and that people ordinarily define mental states relative to the causal roles these states occupy in relation to environmental impingements, external behaviors, and other mental states. We present new empirical evidence, as well as review several key studies on mental state ascription to diverse types of entities such as robots, cyborgs, corporations and God, and …Read more
  •  178
    Phenomenal Consciousness Disembodied
    In Justin Sytsma (ed.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind, Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 45-74. 2014.
    We evaluate the role of embodiment in ordinary mental state ascriptions. Presented are five experiments on phenomenal state ascriptions to disembodied entities such as ghosts and spirits. Results suggest that biological embodiment is not a central principle of folk psychology guiding ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness. By contrast, results continue to support the important role of functional considerations in theory of mind judgments.
  •  173
    The Intentional Action Factory
    The Philosophers' Magazine 52. 2010.
    This short paper, forthcoming as part of a symposium on experimental philosophy to appear in the popular publication, The Philosophers’ Magazine (including contributions by Papineau, Stich, Machery, Sommers, and Knobe), offers an accessible summary of seven years of experimental-philosophical research into intentional action attributions.
  •  172
    The Inadequacy of Paraphrase is the Dogma of Metaphor
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (4): 481-506. 2010.
    Philosophers have alleged that paraphrases of metaphors are inadequate. They have presented this inadequacy as a datum predicted by, and thus a reason to accept, particular accounts of ‘metaphorical meanings.’ But to what, specifically, does this inadequacy claim amount? I argue that, if this assumption is to have any bearing on the metaphor debate, it must be construed as the comparative claim that paraphrases of metaphors are inadequate compared to paraphrases of literal utterances. But the ev…Read more
  •  152
    Is the 'trade-off hypothesis' worth trading for?
    Mind and Language 24 (2): 164-180. 2009.
    Abstract: Recently, the experimental philosopher Joshua Knobe has shown that the folk are more inclined to describe side effects as intentional actions when they bring about bad results. Edouard Machery has offered an intriguing new explanation of Knobe's work—the 'trade-off hypothesis'—which denies that moral considerations explain folk applications of the concept of intentional action. We critique Machery's hypothesis and offer empirical evidence against it. We also evaluate the current state …Read more
  •  135
    Thinking things and feeling things: on an alleged discontinuity in folk metaphysics of mind
    with Adam Arico and Shaun Nichols
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12 (4): 703-725. 2013.
    According to the discontinuity view, people recognize a deep discontinuity between phenomenal and intentional states, such that they refrain from attributing feelings and experiences to entities that do not have the right kind of body, though they may attribute thoughts to entities that lack a biological body, like corporations, robots, and disembodied souls. We examine some of the research that has been used to motivate the discontinuity view. Specifically, we focus on experiments that examine …Read more
  •  108
    Sally and Sid have worked together for a while, and Sally knows Sid to be a hard worker. She might make this point about him by saying, “Sid is a hard worker.” Or, she might make it by saying, “Sid is a Sherman tank.” We all recognize that there is some distinction between the first assertion, in which Sally is speaking literally, and the second, in which she is speaking figuratively. This is a distinction that any theory of figurative language worth its salt should capture. But, as I will argue…Read more
  •  108
    Recent and puzzling experimental results suggest that people’s judgments as to whether or not an action was performed intentionally are sensitive to moral considerations. In this paper, we outline these results and evaluate two accounts which purport to explain them. We then describe a recent experiment that allegedly vindicates one of these accounts and present our own findings to show that it fails to do so. Finally, we present additional data suggesting no such vindication could be in the off…Read more
  •  76
    Rethinking friendship
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1-16. forthcoming.
    ABSTRACTPhilosophers have tended to construe friendship as an intimate relationship involving mutual love, and have focused their discussions on this ‘true’ form of friendship. However, everyone re...
  •  64
    Experimental Pragmatics: An Introduction for Philosophers
    Philosophy Compass 9 (1): 66-79. 2014.
    In the past several decades, psychologists and linguists have begun experimentally investigating linguistic pragmatic phenomena. They share the assumption that the best way to study the use of language in context incorporates an experimental methodology, here understood to comprise controlled studies and careful field observations. This article surveys some key projects in experimental pragmatics and relates these projects to ongoing philosophical discussions
  •  60
    Just what are your intentions?
    The Philosophers' Magazine 52 (52): 72-77. 2011.
    The desire for parsimony – to posit as few explanatory features as possible – has a rich philosophical history and is often given lots of weight in philosophical theory construction. But, as the psychologist Tania Lombrozo has demonstrated, our bias in favour of parsimony can lead us to adopt simple explanations even when it’s far more likely that a complicated explanation is correct
  •  14
    Evidence that stakes don’t matter for evidence
    Philosophical Psychology 27 (4): 488-512. 2014.
  •  11
    Just what are your intentions?
    The Philosophers' Magazine 52 72-77. 2011.
    The desire for parsimony – to posit as few explanatory features as possible – has a rich philosophical history and is often given lots of weight in philosophical theory construction. But, as the psychologist Tania Lombrozo has demonstrated, our bias in favour of parsimony can lead us to adopt simple explanations even when it’s far more likely that a complicated explanation is correct.
  •  4
    The inadequacy of paraphrase is the dogma of metaphor
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (4): 481-506. 2010.
    Philosophers have alleged that paraphrases of metaphors are inadequate. They have presented this inadequacy as a datum predicted by, and thus a reason to accept, particular accounts of ‘metaphorical meanings.’ But to what, specifically, does this inadequacy claim amount? I argue that, if this assumption is to have any bearing on the metaphor debate, it must be construed as the comparative claim that paraphrases of metaphors are inadequate compared to paraphrases of literal utterances. But the ev…Read more