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Ideology, Psychology, and Law$
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Jon Hanson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199737512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737512.001.0001

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Preference, Principle, and Political Casuistry

Preference, Principle, and Political Casuistry

Chapter:
(p.341) Chapter 10 Preference, Principle, and Political Casuistry
Source:
Ideology, Psychology, and Law
Author(s):

Eric D. Knowles

Peter H. Ditto

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737512.003.0013

To say that someone is a person of principle is high praise; to declare that he or she is driven by personal preference is a damning critique. This chapter examines judgments of preference and principle from a social-psychological perspective, arguing that they reflect lay-psychological hypotheses concerning the causes of behavior. It is argued that judgments are rarely purely principled or purely preference-based. Rather, a hybrid or casuistic model is proposed, positing that principles (for example, general intellectual commitments) often guide judgments after having been selected to cohere with one’s preferences (or affective biases) concerning the outcome. Examples of casuistic judgments are examined from the domains of life-and-death decisions, legal reasoning, and racial thinking. The chapter closes with a discussion of the normative status of casuistic judgment.

Keywords:   casuistry, principle, preference, legal reasoning, racial thinking, normative questions

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