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Review
, 24 (2), 124-134

Switching Tracks? Towards a Multidimensional Model of Utilitarian Psychology

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Review

Switching Tracks? Towards a Multidimensional Model of Utilitarian Psychology

Jim A C Everett et al. Trends Cogn Sci.

Abstract

Sacrificial moral dilemmas are widely used to investigate when, how, and why people make judgments that are consistent with utilitarianism. However, to what extent can responses to sacrificial dilemmas shed light on utilitarian decision making? We consider two key questions. First, how meaningful is the relationship between responses to sacrificial dilemmas, and what is distinctive about a utilitarian approach to morality? Second, to what extent do findings about sacrificial dilemmas generalize to other moral contexts where there is tension between utilitarianism and common-sense intuitions? We argue that sacrificial dilemmas only capture one point of conflict between utilitarianism and common-sense morality, and new paradigms will be necessary to investigate other key aspects of utilitarianism, such as its radical impartiality.

Keywords: harm; impartiality; moral psychology; sacrificial dilemmas; utilitarianism.

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