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12/15/2011

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Jason Shepard

Hi Kurt (and Liane and Adam),

Very thought-provoking paper … in thinking about some of the issues presented in the paper, I think I am in need of a bit of clarification on a couple of points.

On page 6, you say, “In this paper, we distinguish mind perception – ascribing mind to others – from reasoning about the specific content of those minds.” But then you talk quite a bit about the relation between making judgments of intentional action and judgments of moral responsibility (or maybe, more accurately, it is about perceiving intentional action and perceiving moral responsibility). But isn’t making a judgment (or perceiving) that a particular action X was brought about intentionally, a content judgment (or a perception of content)?

In your discussion of patterns of judgments (perceptions) for people with autism, for people that received TMS to their RTPJ, and for neurotypical children, you say that these groups of people “should show abnormal patterns of moral responsibility judgment.” But if I understand the dyadic morality theory, the theory would predict not just that the patterns would differ, but that these patterns should be different in a particular way, right? If people with autism, people who received TMS to their RTPJ, and neurotypical children really are perceiving less agency in people, shouldn’t they also attribute less moral responsibility? Could you say a little bit about (a) whether I am misreading the theory and (b) if you think these groups actually are attributing less moral responsibility in general?

Thanks!

Kurt Gray

Hi Jason,

Good thoughts. I think that, in practice, judgments of the presence of an agentic kind of mind covaries with perception of intention, although they are dissociable in principle. Work by Rosset suggests that we normal-mind-perceiving folks automatically assume acts to be intentional, which means that intention and the capacity for agency are often confounded. As for autism, I think they might be showing a different effect - they appear to focus mostly on the outcome act, rather than the mind behind it, just like very young kids do.

Joshua Knobe

Hi Kurt, Liane and Adam,

Just wanted to put in a quick note to say that this is really an amazing paper. I'm sure that the commentators for the Psych Inquiry issue will end up disagreeing with various aspects of your theory -- and it will be exciting to see what light further evidence can bring to these questions -- but either way, what you've got here is quite an extraordinary accomplishment. You are certainly building quite a case!

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