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Determinism, Moral Responsibility, Blame, and Praise Shirley Ogletree, Professor Colleagues include: Crystal Oberle, Rick Archer, Jennifer Covington, Julia.

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Presentation on theme: "Determinism, Moral Responsibility, Blame, and Praise Shirley Ogletree, Professor Colleagues include: Crystal Oberle, Rick Archer, Jennifer Covington, Julia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Determinism, Moral Responsibility, Blame, and Praise Shirley Ogletree, Professor Colleagues include: Crystal Oberle, Rick Archer, Jennifer Covington, Julia Bahruth, Janine Harlow Texas State University—San Marcos Presentation for UT—Developmental Area

2 General Outline I. Determinism vs. Free Will A. Philosophical positions B. Psychological positions C. College students’ beliefs II. Determinism and Moral Responsibility A. Is moral responsibility incompatible with moral responsibility? B. Skinner’s position III. Interpersonal Judgments of Blame and Praise I. Are determinists more tolerant? II. Background factors & praise/blame IV. Other Implications

3 Determinism Vs. Free Will Philosophical positions Philosophical positions Hard determinism (Ayer, 1954) Hard determinism (Ayer, 1954) Soft determinism (Stace, 1952) Soft determinism (Stace, 1952) Libertarian (Kane, 2009) Libertarian (Kane, 2009) Psychological positions Psychological positions Determinism explained: “Groundhog Day” Determinism explained: “Groundhog Day”: “Groundhog Day”: “Groundhog Day” Determinists—Freud, Skinner; Wegner (2004) Determinists—Freud, Skinner; Wegner (2004) Support free will—Rogers, Maslow; Hodgson, (2005) Support free will—Rogers, Maslow; Hodgson, (2005)

4 College Students’ (Texas State)Beliefs On a five-point scale (1—definitely do NOT have free will, 5— definitely HAVE free will), 83% chose a “4” or “5” On a five-point scale (1—definitely do NOT have free will, 5— definitely HAVE free will), 83% chose a “4” or “5” Students most strongly agreed with the statement (69% chose a “4” or “5”), “People’s genes, their past experience, and their current circumstances influence their behavior, but ultimately they freely choose among their options and therefore have free will.” Students most strongly agreed with the statement (69% chose a “4” or “5”), “People’s genes, their past experience, and their current circumstances influence their behavior, but ultimately they freely choose among their options and therefore have free will.” Assessing the amount of free will (1—COMPLETE free will to 10—NO free will), 64% of participants choose a number < 5 (labeled SOME free will). Assessing the amount of free will (1—COMPLETE free will to 10—NO free will), 64% of participants choose a number < 5 (labeled SOME free will). Your thoughts—why is belief in free will so pervasive? Your thoughts—why is belief in free will so pervasive? Source: Two studies in Ogletree & Oberle (2008) Source: Two studies in Ogletree & Oberle (2008)

5 Determinism Vs. Free Will

6 Determinism and Moral Responsibility Incompatibilists: One cannot be morally responsible if one is not ultimately responsible for his/her actions. Incompatibilists: One cannot be morally responsible if one is not ultimately responsible for his/her actions. Skinner’s (1972) perspective: Skinner’s (1972) perspective: Consequences justified by: Consequences justified by: Individual outcomes Individual outcomes Outcomes for society Outcomes for society Others (Clark 2006; Stace, 1952) agree Others (Clark 2006; Stace, 1952) agree

7 Determinism and Tolerance Walking a mile in “your” shoes Walking a mile in “your” shoes Smilansky (2005) Smilansky (2005) Determinism – “the great eraser” Determinism – “the great eraser” Research—little consistency relating more tolerant and free will/determinism attitudes Research—little consistency relating more tolerant and free will/determinism attitudes Ogletree & Archer (2011); Ogletree, Covington, & Archer (submitted)— several small correlations with libertarian attitudes and “blameworthiness” or “praiseworthiness” Ogletree & Archer (2011); Ogletree, Covington, & Archer (submitted)— several small correlations with libertarian attitudes and “blameworthiness” or “praiseworthiness” Why? Why? College psychology students? College psychology students? Emotional reactivity—Nichols (2007); Nichols & Knobe (2007) Emotional reactivity—Nichols (2007); Nichols & Knobe (2007) “Nonrational processes”—Rogerson, Gottlieb, Handelsman, Knapp, Younggren, 2011 (American Psychologist) “Nonrational processes”—Rogerson, Gottlieb, Handelsman, Knapp, Younggren, 2011 (American Psychologist)

8 Experimental Manipulation of Choice Manipulation of “choice” Manipulation of “choice” Activated by directions: Activated by directions: “Whenever you see the student making a choice, press the Spacebar.” “Whenever you see the student making a choice, press the Spacebar.” “Whenever you see the student touching an object with his hand for the first time, press the Spacebar.” “Whenever you see the student touching an object with his hand for the first time, press the Spacebar.” Increased blame for victim and reduced empathy Increased blame for victim and reduced empathy Savani, Stephens, and Markus (2011) in Psychological Science

9 Blame and Hardship Scenarios Ogletree & Archer (2011) in Ethics & Behavior Study 1: 8 scenarios, 4 describing problem with alcohol abuse, 4 describing homelessness Study 1: 8 scenarios, 4 describing problem with alcohol abuse, 4 describing homelessness Within each problem, scenario varied depending upon amount of childhood hardship. Within each problem, scenario varied depending upon amount of childhood hardship. Hardship significantly (negatively) predicted homelessness blame Hardship significantly (negatively) predicted homelessness blame Study 2: 12 scenarios varying target gender, problem (alcohol abuse, homeless) and background information. Study 2: 12 scenarios varying target gender, problem (alcohol abuse, homeless) and background information. Both alcohol abuse, homelessness: more difficult childhood—less blame Both alcohol abuse, homelessness: more difficult childhood—less blame Rated similarity to target significant for alcohol abuse Rated similarity to target significant for alcohol abuse

10 Praise and Hardship Scenarios Ogletree, Covington, & Archer (submitted to Social Research Justice) Study 1: Study 1: 8 scenarios, varying in accomplishment (accepted at Julliard, finalist on American Idol), childhood background information 8 scenarios, varying in accomplishment (accepted at Julliard, finalist on American Idol), childhood background information Results: Rated effort, hardship predicted “praiseworthiness” Results: Rated effort, hardship predicted “praiseworthiness” Study 2: Study 2: 12 scenarios, varying in accomplishment (soccer, tennis, math, poetry), childhood background information 12 scenarios, varying in accomplishment (soccer, tennis, math, poetry), childhood background information Results: Rated effort, hardship again predicted “praiseworthiness” Results: Rated effort, hardship again predicted “praiseworthiness”

11 Conclusion Even though deterministic attitudes do not clearly predict tolerance, college students give less blame and ascribe more credit when childhood hardships are highlighted. Even though deterministic attitudes do not clearly predict tolerance, college students give less blame and ascribe more credit when childhood hardships are highlighted. Can we become more tolerant by learning more about each other?

12 Other Implications Perceptions of Choice? Perceptions of Choice? My perspective My perspective Choice more important Choice more important Determinism—positive philosophy Determinism—positive philosophy Relations with primates? Relations with primates? Texas State college students: Texas State college students: Humans different from both chimpanzees and rats Humans different from both chimpanzees and rats Chimpanzees differed from rats in perceived moral responsibility and free will. Chimpanzees differed from rats in perceived moral responsibility and free will. Ogletree, Oberle, Harlow, & Bahruth, (2010) in Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology

13 References Ayer, A. J. (1954). Philosophical essays. MacMillian: London. Ayer, A. J. (1954). Philosophical essays. MacMillian: London. Clark, T. W. (2006, May). Explaining Moussaoui. June 7, 2006, from Clark, T. W. (2006, May). Explaining Moussaoui. June 7, 2006, from Hodgson, D. (2005). A plain person’s free will. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12, Hodgson, D. (2005). A plain person’s free will. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12, Kane, R. (2009). Libertarianism. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosphy in the Analytic Tradition. 144, Doi : /s y Kane, R. (2009). Libertarianism. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosphy in the Analytic Tradition. 144, Doi : /s y Nichols, S. (2007). After incompatibilism: A naturalistic defense of the reactive attitudes. Philosophical Perspectives, 21(1), Nichols, S. (2007). After incompatibilism: A naturalistic defense of the reactive attitudes. Philosophical Perspectives, 21(1), Nichols, S., & Knobe, J. (2007). Moral responsibility and determinism: The cognitive science of folk intuitions. Noûs, 42 (4), Nichols, S., & Knobe, J. (2007). Moral responsibility and determinism: The cognitive science of folk intuitions. Noûs, 42 (4), Ogletree, S. M., & Archer, R. A Interpersonal judgments: Moral responsibility and blame. Ethics and Behavior, 21, Ogletree, S. M., & Archer, R. A Interpersonal judgments: Moral responsibility and blame. Ethics and Behavior, 21, Ogletree, S. M. & Oberle, C. D The nature, common usage, and implications of free will and determinism. Behavior and Philosophy, 36, 5-19 Ogletree, S. M. & Oberle, C. D The nature, common usage, and implications of free will and determinism. Behavior and Philosophy, 36, 5-19 Ogletree, S. M., Oberle, C. D., Harlow, J., & Bahruth, J. (2010). Perceptions of choice: Free will, moral responsibility, and mind-body dualism in humans, chimpanzees, and rats. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 4 (3), Ogletree, S. M., Oberle, C. D., Harlow, J., & Bahruth, J. (2010). Perceptions of choice: Free will, moral responsibility, and mind-body dualism in humans, chimpanzees, and rats. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 4 (3), Rogerson, M. D., Gottlieb, M. C., Handelsmann, M. M., Knapp, S., Younggren, J. (2011). Nonrational processes in ethical decision making, American Psychologist, 66, Rogerson, M. D., Gottlieb, M. C., Handelsmann, M. M., Knapp, S., Younggren, J. (2011). Nonrational processes in ethical decision making, American Psychologist, 66, Savani, K., Stephens, N. M., & Markus, H. R. (2011) The unanticipated interpersonal and societal consequences of choice: Victim blaming and reduced support for the public good. Psychological Science, 22, Savani, K., Stephens, N. M., & Markus, H. R. (2011) The unanticipated interpersonal and societal consequences of choice: Victim blaming and reduced support for the public good. Psychological Science, 22, Skinner, B. F. (1972). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Skinner, B. F. (1972). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Smilansky, S. (2005). Free will and respect for persons. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 29, Smilansky, S. (2005). Free will and respect for persons. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 29, Stace, W. T. (1952). Religion and the modern mind. Philadelphia: Lippincott. Stace, W. T. (1952). Religion and the modern mind. Philadelphia: Lippincott. Wegner, D. M. (2004). Précis of The illusion of conscious will. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27, Wegner, D. M. (2004). Précis of The illusion of conscious will. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27,


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