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Björnsson, Gunnar
Publications (10 of 41) Show all publications
Björklund, F., Björnsson, G., Eriksson, J., Francén Olinder, R. & Strandberg, C. (2012). Recent Work on Motivational Internalism. Analysis, 72(1), 124-137.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Recent Work on Motivational Internalism
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2012 (English)In: Analysis, ISSN 0003-2638, E-ISSN 1467-8284, Vol. 72, no 1, 124-137 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012
Keyword
metaethics, motivational internalism, amoralists, cognitivism, non-cognitivism
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-73437 (URN)10.1093/analys/anr118 (DOI)000299582800020 ()
Projects
MMER
Available from: 2012-01-03 Created: 2012-01-03 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
Björnsson, G. & Persson, K. (2012). The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility. Noûs, 46(2), 326-354.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility
2012 (English)In: Noûs, ISSN 0029-4624, E-ISSN 1468-0068, Vol. 46, no 2, 326-354 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we do three things. First, we put forth a novel hypothesis about judgments of moral responsibility according to which such judgments are a species of explanatory judgments. Second, we argue that this hypothesis explains both some general features of everyday thinking about responsibility and the appeal of skeptical arguments against moral responsibility. Finally, we argue that, if correct, the hypothesis provides a defense against these skeptical arguments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012
Keyword
moral responsibility, free will, scepticism, skepticism, judgments of moral responsibility, determinism
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-64533 (URN)10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00813.x (DOI)000304136000007 ()
Available from: 2011-01-26 Created: 2011-01-26 Last updated: 2017-12-11
Björnsson, G. (2011). Illusions of Undermined Responsibility. In: Morality and the Cognitive Sciences, Book of abstracts. Paper presented at Morality and the Cognitive Sciences;7th International Symposium of Cognition, Logic and Communication. Riga, Latvia: Center for the Cognitive Sciences and Semantics, University of Latvia.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Illusions of Undermined Responsibility
2011 (English)In: Morality and the Cognitive Sciences, Book of abstracts, Riga, Latvia: Center for the Cognitive Sciences and Semantics, University of Latvia , 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Many of us find attributions of moral responsibility undermined when we reflect on skeptical philosophical arguments. Defenders of moral responsibility try to explain away such reactions and undermine premises of these arguments, but the worries seem uncomfortably independent of any one particular argument or dubious premise. By contrast, skeptics seem to have a straightforward explanation of why people seem responsible though in fact they are not: we have paid insufficient attention to features highlighted by the skeptical arguments.

In this paper, I argue that the shoe is on the other foot. Judging by recent work on the psychology of responsibility judgments, skeptical intuitions are best seen as side-effects of cognitive systems designed to (i) track explanatory relations between aspects of agents’ motivation and the objects of responsibility and (ii) guide practices of holding agents responsible for those events. I begin by reviewing the relevant psychological model of responsibility judgments and its support and indicating how it explains the appeal of various skeptical arguments. I then argue that if these explanations are correct, intuitions of undermined responsibility triggered by such arguments are akin to visual illusions, preventing us from seeing a relation that is really there.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Riga, Latvia: Center for the Cognitive Sciences and Semantics, University of Latvia, 2011
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68247 (URN)
Conference
Morality and the Cognitive Sciences;7th International Symposium of Cognition, Logic and Communication
Projects
Moral responsibility as explanation
Available from: 2011-05-23 Created: 2011-05-13 Last updated: 2011-05-23Bibliographically approved
Björnsson, G. (2011). Neurophysiology and the Illusion of Undermined Responsibility. In: Ethical and moral aspects of naturalising the mind, Siena, Italy, June 2011: Abstracts, http://www.unisi.it/eventi/naturalisation_mind/abstracts.pdf. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Neurophysiology and the Illusion of Undermined Responsibility
2011 (English)In: Ethical and moral aspects of naturalising the mind, Siena, Italy, June 2011: Abstracts, http://www.unisi.it/eventi/naturalisation_mind/abstracts.pdf, 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many of us find attributions of moral responsibility undermined when we reflect on skeptical philosophical arguments. Defenders of moral responsibility try to explain away such reactions and undermine premises of these arguments, but the worries seem uncomfortably independent of any one particular argument or dubious premise. By contrast, skeptics seem to have a straightforward explanation of why people seem responsible though in fact they are not: we have paid insufficient attention to features highlighted by the skeptical arguments.

In this paper, I argue that the shoe is on the other foot. Judging by recent work on the psychology of responsibility judgments, skeptical intuitions are best seen as side-effects of cognitive systems designed to (i) track explanatory relations between aspects of agents’ motivation and the objects of responsibility and (ii) guide practices of holding agents responsible for those events. I begin by reviewing the relevant psychological model of responsibility judgments and its support and indicating how it explains the appeal of various skeptical arguments. I then argue that if these explanations are correct, intuitions of undermined responsibility triggered by such arguments are akin to visual illusions, preventing us from seeing a relation that is really there.

Keyword
moral responsibility, neuroscience, skepticism, moral psychology, the explanation hypothesis, illusion
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-69199 (URN)
Available from: 2011-08-12 Created: 2011-06-17 Last updated: 2011-08-12Bibliographically approved
Björnsson, G. (2011). The Explanation Explanation of the Side-Effect Effect. In: Pacific APA San Diego April 2011, Experimental Philosophy Society Group Session. Paper presented at Pacific APA San Diego April 2011. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Explanation Explanation of the Side-Effect Effect
2011 (English)In: Pacific APA San Diego April 2011, Experimental Philosophy Society Group Session, 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Beginning with Knobe (2003), numerous studies have revealed asymmetries in folk judgments about a variety of relations between agents and side-effects of their actions to which the agents are indifferent. When the CEO of a company cares solely about profit and knowingly decides to implement a project that will harm the environment, subjects tend to say that he harmed the environment intentionally, that he is blameworthy for doing so, that he was for harming the environment, that he decided to harm the environment, and that he achieved profit by harming the environment. When the same CEO instead knowingly implements a profitable project that will help the environment, subjects are unwilling to say that he helped the environment intentionally, that he is praiseworthy for doing so, that he was for helping the environment, decided to do so, or achieved profit by helping the environment (see e.g. Pettit & Knobe 2009).

Given that the CEO was equally indifferent to and aware of the environmental effects in both cases, the asymmetry might seem puzzling. A number of accounts have been proposed, and there is reasonable agreement that the asymmetries depend on norms, or on evaluations of the different effects (see e.g. Nichols & Ulatowski 2007; Knobe 2007; Knobe & Mendlow 2004; Knobe forthcoming; Cole Wright & Bengson 2009). What is not clear, however, is what the nature of this dependence is.

In this talk, I outline some problems with prior explanations and provide an account that handles all the relevant cases. The basic explanans is that in the harm condition, there is a straightforward and intuitively striking explanation of the effect in terms of the agent’s motivational states: the environment was harmed because the CEO didn’t care enough about the environment. Nothing similar is available in the help condition. This difference in intuitive explanatory judgments between the harm and help conditions is in turn explained by the fact that differences in normative expectations make certain factors seem explanatorily more significant than others (cf. Hitchcock & Knobe 2009). To various degrees, these differences affect judgments of intentionality and related folk-psychological judgments (concerning what was decided, what an agent was for, what was done by doing what, etc), when such judgments are seen as playing an explanatory role: for this purpose the action in question needs to be understood in terms that connect to motivational states that explain the agent’s actions. Given an assumption defended elsewhere (Björnsson & Persson forthcoming) and supported by new empirical evidence, the same is true about judgments of blame- and praiseworthiness: they depend on attributions of responsibility for the outcome, and judgments of responsibility are themselves a species of explanatory judgments.

If this ‘explanation explanation’ is correct, we can expect similar asymmetries in the case of intended effects of actions performed under microscopic chances of success, and we can expect side-effect asymmetries triggered by non-normative considerations that affect the explanatory relevance of agents’ motivational structures. And this is indeed what we see (Nadelhoffer 2004).

Björnsson, G.; Persson, K. Forthcoming: ‘The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility’. Noûs

Cole Wright, J; Bengson, J. 2009: ‘Asymmetries in Judgments of Responsibility and Intentional Action’. Mind & Language, 24, pp. 24–50.

Knobe, J.; Hitchcock, C. 2009: ‘Cause and Norm’. Journal of Philosophy, 106, pp. 587-612.

Knobe, J. 2003: ‘Intentional Action and Side Effects in Ordinary Language.’ Analysis 63, pp. 190–93.

Knobe, J. Forthcoming: ‘Person as Scientist, Person as Moralist.’ Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Knobe, Joshua 2007: ‘Reason Explanation in Folk Psychology’. Midwest Studies In Philosophy 31, pp. 90–106.

Knobe, J.; Mendlow, G. 2004: ‘The Good, the Bad and the Blameworthy: Understanding the Role of Evaluative Reasoning in Folk Psychology.’ Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 24, pp. 252–25

Nadelhoffer, T. 2004: ‘On Praise, Side Effects, and Folk Ascriptions of Intentionality’. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 24, pp. 196–213.

Nichols, Shaun; Ulatowski, Joseph 2007: ‘Intuitions and Individual Differences: The Knobe Effect Revisited’. Mind & Language, 22, pp. 346-65.

Pettit, D.; Knobe, J. 2009: ‘The Pervasive Impact of Moral Judgment.’ Mind & Language 24:5, pp. 586-604.

Keyword
knobe effect, intentionality, responsibility, folk psychology, explanatory judgments
National Category
Philosophy Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-69198 (URN)
Conference
Pacific APA San Diego April 2011
Available from: 2011-08-12 Created: 2011-06-17 Last updated: 2011-08-12Bibliographically approved
Björnsson, G. (2011). Towards a Radically Pragmatic Theory of If-Conditionals. In: Ken Turner (Ed.), Making Semantics Pragmatic: (pp. 103-141). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards a Radically Pragmatic Theory of If-Conditionals
2011 (English)In: Making Semantics Pragmatic / [ed] Ken Turner, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011, 103-141 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is generally agreed that constructions of the form “if P, Q” are capable of conveying a number of different relations between antecedent and consequent, with pragmatics playing a central role in determining these relations. Controversy concerns what the conventional contribution of the if-clause is, how it constrains the pragmatic processes, and what those processes are. In this essay, I begin to argue that the conventional contribution of if-clauses to semantics is exhausted by the fact that these clauses introduce a proposition without presenting it as true so that the consequent can be understood in relation to it. Given our cognitive interests in such non-truth-presentational introductions, conditionals will make salient the wide but nevertheless disciplined variety of contents that we naturally attribute to them; no further substantial constraints of the sorts proposed by standard theories of conditionals are needed to explain the phenomena. If this is correct, it provides prima facie evidence for a radically contextualist account of conditionals according to which conditionals have no truth-evaluable or intuitively complete content absent some contextually provided, sufficiently salient relation between antecedent and consequent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011
Series
Current Research in the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface, ISSN 1472-7870 ; 24
Keyword
Semantics, Pragmatics, Semantik, Pragmatik
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-73448 (URN)10.1108/S1472-7870(2011)0000024007 (DOI)978-0-85724-909-8 (ISBN)
Available from: 2012-01-03 Created: 2012-01-03 Last updated: 2015-01-08Bibliographically approved
Björnsson, G. (2010). Advertisement of An Empirical Theory of Judgments of Moral Responsibilit. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Advertisement of An Empirical Theory of Judgments of Moral Responsibilit
2010 (English)Other (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Presentation of an empirical model of judgments of moral responsibility, based on work by Gunnar Björnsson, Karl Persson and Erik Johansson.

Keyword
moral responsibility, experimental philosophy
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-63428 (URN)
Projects
Moral responsibility as explanation
Note
CEU Summer School Budapest, July 2010Available from: 2010-12-17 Created: 2010-12-17
Björnsson, G. (2010). Collective explanations, joint responsibility. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Collective explanations, joint responsibility
2010 (English)Other (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Two philosophical discussions of moral responsibility run parallel. One is tightly connected to the debate about free will and its relation to determinism and indeterminism. Philosophical accounts of moral responsibility belonging to this discussion typically focus on individual agential responsibility, characterizing what must be true about individuals in order for them to be responsible for their actions. The other discussion is connected to normative ethics, and the question of when the normative status of an action is affected by the occurrence of some good or bad event. Accounts belonging to this discussion sometimes address questions of whether individuals can be responsible for outcomes of actions by collectives to which they belong or identify with, or for joint effects of a great number of similar actions. A branch of the normative debate about responsibility also concerns the responsibility of collective agents such as corporations and nations. The two discussions rarely meet, and for seemingly good reason, as they appear to be concerned with very different aspects of responsibility; one is concerned with the causes of actions and the conditions under which we decide to act, the other with the relation between actions and consequences of action. In this paper, however, I argue that the Explanation Account, a promising account of individual agential responsibility, extends naturally to both individual and collective outcome-responsibility, and suggests intuitively plausible answers to questions about the responsibility of collectives and their members. The crucial aspect of the Explanation Account is that for an agent to be responsible for an event is for some relevant aspect of the agent’s motivation or lack thereof to be part of a significant explanation of that event. In the paper, I discuss how this extends to cases where events are explained by the fact that, say, the US rejects an international treaty, or that affluent people keep flying more than necessary. Unlike many other accounts of responsibility in virtue of participation in collective action, this account does not presuppose that collectives are agents, or even that they are social or cultural units. What matters is whether the actions of these individuals are instances of a set of actions that explains the outcomes for which they are thereby responsible. References: * Björnsson, Gunnar and Persson, Karl “Judgments of Moral Responsibility: A Unified Account”, Society for Philosophy and Psychology, 35th Annual Meeting 2009, available at http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00004633/ * Björnsson, Gunnar and Persson, Karl “The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility”, forthcoming in Noûs

Keyword
Moral responsibility, collective responsibility, explanation, moral psychology
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-63430 (URN)
Projects
Moral responsibility as explanation
Note
Högre seminariet i Praktisk Filosofi, Lunds universitet, 4 feb 2010Available from: 2010-12-17 Created: 2010-12-17
Björnsson, G. (2010). Collective explanations, joint responsibility. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Collective explanations, joint responsibility
2010 (English)Other (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Two philosophical discussions of moral responsibility run parallel. One is tightly connected to the debate about free will and its relation to determinism and indeterminism. Philosophical accounts of moral responsibility belonging to this discussion typically focus on individual agential responsibility, characterizing what must be true about individuals in order for them to be responsible for their actions. The other discussion is connected to normative ethics, and the question of when the normative status of an action is affected by the occurrence of some good or bad event. Accounts belonging to this discussion sometimes address questions of whether individuals can be responsible for outcomes of actions by collectives to which they belong or identify with, or for joint effects of a great number of similar actions. A branch of the normative debate about responsibility also concerns the responsibility of collective agents such as corporations and nations. The two discussions rarely meet, and for seemingly good reason, as they appear to be concerned with very different aspects of responsibility; one is concerned with the causes of actions and the conditions under which we decide to act, the other with the relation between actions and consequences of action. In this paper, however, I argue that the Explanation Account, a promising account of individual agential responsibility, extends naturally to both individual and collective outcome-responsibility, and suggests intuitively plausible answers to questions about the responsibility of collectives and their members. The crucial aspect of the Explanation Account is that for an agent to be responsible for an event is for some relevant aspect of the agent’s motivation or lack thereof to be part of a significant explanation of that event. In the paper, I discuss how this extends to cases where events are explained by the fact that, say, the US rejects an international treaty, or that affluent people keep flying more than necessary. Unlike many other accounts of responsibility in virtue of participation in collective action, this account does not presuppose that collectives are agents, or even that they are social or cultural units. What matters is whether the actions of these individuals are instances of a set of actions that explains the outcomes for which they are thereby responsible. References: * Björnsson, Gunnar and Persson, Karl “Judgments of Moral Responsibility: A Unified Account”, Society for Philosophy and Psychology, 35th Annual Meeting 2009, available at http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00004633/ * Björnsson, Gunnar and Persson, Karl “The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility”, forthcoming in Noûs

National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-63429 (URN)
Note
Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Göteborgs universitet, Seminariet för Politisk TeoriAvailable from: 2010-12-17 Created: 2010-12-17
Björnsson, G. (2010). Commentary On Janice Dowell’s “Flexible Contextualism About ‘Ought’”. Paper presented at Pacific APA 2010, San Francisco 31/3-4/4. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Commentary On Janice Dowell’s “Flexible Contextualism About ‘Ought’”
2010 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Problematiserar Dowell's antagande att människor är objektivister om moraliska omdömen och skissar på alternativa sätt att försvara kontextualism om "bör".

Keyword
Janice Dowell, contextualism, "ought", moral objectivism, moral relativism
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-63427 (URN)
Conference
Pacific APA 2010, San Francisco 31/3-4/4
Projects
Disagreement, objectivity, and insensitive assessments
Available from: 2010-12-17 Created: 2010-12-17
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