Self Control Project

A Dialogue by Mele

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Marcus Arvan

Just curious - did you test for effects with *moral* philosophers (as opposed to just philosophers)? I would be curious to see what the results there would be (I, for one, always judge trolley cases identically).

jonathan weinberg

Wicked cool.

Eric Schwitzgebel

Thanks, Jonathan!

Marcus: Yes, we do have a separately analyzable subset of Ethics PhD's. 64% of the ethics PhD's rated all four scenarios equivalently, which is not statistically detectably different from the 58% of non-philosophers (47/73 vs. 390/669, Z = 1.0 p = .30) and very close to the 62% for non-ethicist philosophers. With our smallish number of Ethics PhDs, the data are somewhat underpowered, but here as elsewhere in our studies we haven't found much evidence of ethicists respondingly differently from other philosophers.

Marcus Arvan

Interesting, Eric - thanks!

Marcus Morgan

The thing that worries me about these problems is that are nothing more than gambling and counting. Hume is my authority on being unable to foretell the future, if I need one. If anyone wants to take responsibility for fortune telling and take a life, that's their choice. These experiments are based on gambling, so present them with that proviso so people are clear that they must first trust their own or someone else's calculation of "certainty" of disaster, which may be inaccurate and thus a real disaster.

You may say I miss the point, but you miss reality if you do not accept my point, and you fail to set up the experiment properly if you do not make the gambling aspect clear rather than skirting over it to focus on the aspect of decision. Decision are based on something, and you have left out a key element. Do not skip the proviso, or people will become mindlessly accustomed to fortune telling. If you would like to read more of my ideas on these and related matters, my free book is at (design to the laws of nature, not god).

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