Switching Tracks? Towards a Multidimensional Model of Utilitarian Psychology


Sacrificial moral dilemmas are widely used to investigate when, how, and why people make judgments that are consistent with utilitarianism. But 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 of a utilitarian approach to morality? Second, to what extent do findings about sacrificial dilemmas generalise 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 are needed to investigate other key aspects of utilitarianism, such as its radical impartiality.

Trends in Cognitive Science

Full citation

Everett, J.A.C. & Kahane, G (2020). Switching Tracks: Towards a multi-dimensional model of utilitarian psychology. Trends in Cognitive Science. 24(2), 35-45.