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Oxford Studies in Experimental PhilosophyVolume 1$
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Joshua Knobe, Tania Lombrozo, and Shaun Nichols

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718765.001.0001

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The Moral Status of an Action Influences its Perceived Intentional Status in Adolescents with Psychopathic Traits*

The Moral Status of an Action Influences its Perceived Intentional Status in Adolescents with Psychopathic Traits*

Chapter:
(p.131) 5 The Moral Status of an Action Influences its Perceived Intentional Status in Adolescents with Psychopathic Traits*
Source:
Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy
Author(s):

Elise M. Cardinale

Elizabeth C. Finger

Julia C. Schechter

Ilana T.N. Jurkowitz

R.J.R. Blair

Abigail A. Marsh

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718765.003.0006

Moral judgments about an action are influenced by the action’s intentionality. The reverse is also true: judgments of intentionality can be influenced by an action’s moral valence. For example, respondents judge a harmful side-effect of an intended outcome to be more intentional than a helpful side-effect. Debate continues regarding the mechanisms underlying this “side-effect effect” and the conditions under which it will persist. The research behind this chapter tested whether the side-effect effect is intact in adolescents with psychopathic traits, who are characterized by persistent immoral behavior, deficient moral emotions, and impairments in some forms of moral judgment. Results showed no differences between healthy adolescents and those with psychopathic traits: both groups judged harmful side-effects to be more intentional than helpful side-effects by an approximately 2:1 ratio. The chapter discusses these results in light of hypothesized mechanisms underlying the side-effect effect, and in light of our current understanding of moral reasoning deficits in psychopathy.

Keywords:   psychopathy, callous-unemotional, side-effect effect, moral judgment, intentionality, social norm, adolescents

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