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The role of causal representations in moral judgment

dc.contributor.advisorWaldmann, Michael R. Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.authorEngelmann, Neele
dc.titleThe role of causal representations in moral judgmentde
dc.contributor.refereeWaldmann, Michael R. Prof. Dr.
dc.description.abstractengMorality and causation are deeply intertwined. For instance, the value of anticipated consequences is a crucial input for an action’s moral permissibility, and assigning blame or responsibility for outcomes generally requires that a causal link connect the outcome with a potentially blameworthy agent’s action. Psychological theories of moral judgment acknowledge this, but an explicit connection to theories of causal reasoning, and to theories of reasoning about outcomes, is missing. In this thesis, I present the results of two research projects that investigated, respectively, how (a) features of the causal relations connecting actions and outcomes, and (b) observers’ subjective value of consequences affect moral judgments. In the first project, we found that chain structures connecting actions and harmful outcomes, compared to direct causal relations, can lead to a lower perceived strength of the relation, and thereby to attributions of diminished outcome foreseeability to agents. This explains why moral judgments about actions and agents can be more lenient in chains compared to direct relations. In the second project, we proposed and evaluated a computational model of reasoning about outcome trade-offs in moral scenarios. The model predicts permissibility judgments about actions from observers’ subjective utilities of the action’s consequences, and it accounted well for participants’ judgments in two experiments. I argue that an improved understanding of how features of causal relations and the value of outcomes affect moral judgments would advance any contemporary theory of moral reasoning. The findings presented in this thesis aim to contribute to such an improved understanding. I conclude by discussing how features of causal relations and utilities might be formally integrated in causal representations, and lay out directions for future
dc.contributor.coRefereeRakoczy, Hannes Prof. Dr.
dc.subject.engMoral psychologyde
dc.subject.engCausal reasoningde
dc.affiliation.instituteBiologische Fakultät für Biologie und Psychologiede
dc.subject.gokfullPsychologie (PPN619868627)de
dc.notes.confirmationsentConfirmation sent 2022-09-05T12:45:01de

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