notes/Ethicists (Link Bibliography)

“notes/​Ethicists” links:

  1. 2009-schwitzgebel.pdf: ⁠, Eric Schwitzgebel, Joshua Rust (2009-11-16; philosophy):

    If philosophical moral reflection tends to improve moral behaviour, one might expect that professional ethicists will, on average, behave morally better than non-ethicists. One potential source of insight into the moral behaviour of ethicists is philosophers’ opinions about ethicists’ behaviour.

    At the 2007 Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, we used chocolate to entice 277 passers-by to complete anonymous questionnaires without their knowing the topic of those questionnaires in advance. Version I of the questionnaire asked respondents to compare, in general, the moral behaviour of ethicists to that of philosophers not specializing in ethics and to non-academics of similar social background. Version II asked respondents similar questions about the moral behaviour of the ethics specialist in their department whose name comes next in alphabetical order after their own. Both versions asked control questions about specialists in metaphysics and epistemology.

    The majority of respondents expressed the view that ethicists do not, on average, behave better than non-ethicists. Whereas ethicists tended to avoid saying that ethicists behave worse than non-ethicists, non-ethicists expressed that pessimistic view about as often as they expressed the view that ethicists behave better.

    [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  2. ⁠, Schwitzgebel, Eric Rust, Joshua (2010):

    If philosophical moral reflection improves moral behavior, one might expect ethics professors to behave morally better than socially similar non-ethicists. Under the assumption that forms of political engagement such as voting have moral worth, we looked at the rate at which a sample of professional ethicists-and political philosophers as a subgroup of ethicists-voted in eight years’ worth of elections. We compared ethicists’ and political philosophers’ voting rates with the voting rates of three other groups: philosophers not specializing in ethics, political scientists, and a comparison group of professors specializing in neither philosophy nor political science. All groups voted at about the same rate, except for the political scientists, who voted about 10–15% more often. On the face of it, this finding conflicts with the that ethicists will behave more responsibly than non-ethicists. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/​​​​s13164-009-0011-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

  3. 2011-schwitzgebel-2.pdf: ⁠, Eric Schwitzgebel, Joshua Rust, Linus Ta-Lun Huang, Alan T. Moore, Justin Coates (2011-09-06; philosophy):

    If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists.

    We examined three types of courteous and discourteous behavior at American Philosophical Association conferences: talking audibly while the speaker is talking (versus remaining silent), allowing the door to slam shut while entering or exiting mid-session (versus attempting to close the door quietly), and leaving behind clutter at the end of a session (versus leaving one’s seat tidy).

    By these three measures, audiences in ethics sessions did not appear to behave any more courteously than did audiences in non-ethics sessions. However, audiences in environmental ethics sessions did appear to leave behind less trash.

    [Keywords: ethics, ethics professors, etiquette, metaphilosophy, morality, moral behavior, philosophers, psychology of philosophy, sociology of philosophy]

    [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  4. 2011-schwitzgebel.pdf: ⁠, Eric Schwitzgebel, Joshua Rust (2011-03-16; philosophy):

    We examine the self-reported moral attitudes and moral behavior of 198 ethics professors, 208 non-ethicist philosophers, and 167 professors in departments other than philosophy on eight moral issues: academic society membership, voting, staying in touch with one’s mother, vegetarianism, organ and blood donation, responsiveness to student emails, charitable giving, and honesty in responding to survey questionnaires. On some issues we also had direct behavioral measures that we could compare with self-report.

    Ethicists expressed somewhat more stringent normative attitudes on some issues, such as vegetarianism and charitable donation. However, on no issue did ethicists show statistically-significantly better behavior than the two comparison groups.

    Our findings on attitude-behavior consistency were mixed: Ethicists showed the strongest relationship between behavior and expressed moral attitude regarding voting but the weakest regarding charitable donation.

    [Keywords: ethics, moral psychology, moral behavior, attitude-behavior consistency, experimental philosophy, applied ethics, vegetarianism, charity, voting]

    [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  5. 2012-schwitzgebel.pdf: ⁠, Eric Schwitzgebel, Fiery Cushman (2021-02-04; philosophy):

    We examined the effects of order of presentation on the moral judgments of professional philosophers and two comparison groups.

    All groups showed similar-sized order effects on their judgments about hypothetical moral scenarios targeting the ⁠, the ⁠, and the principle of ⁠. Philosophers’ endorsements of related general moral principles were also substantially influenced by the order in which the hypothetical scenarios had previously been presented.

    Thus, philosophical expertise does not appear to enhance the stability of moral judgments against this presumably unwanted source of bias, even given familiar types of cases and principles.

    [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  6. 2013-rust.pdf: ⁠, Joshua Rust, Eric Schwitzgebel (2013-04-03; philosophy):

    Do professional ethicists behave any morally better than other professors do? Do they show any greater consistency between their normative attitudes and their behavior?

    In response to a survey question, a large majority of professors (83% of ethicists, 83% of non-ethicist philosophers, and 85% of non-philosophers) expressed the view that “not consistently responding to student e-mails” is morally bad. A similarly large majority of professors claimed to respond to at least 95% of student e-mails.

    These professors, and others, were sent three e-mails designed to look like queries from students. Ethicists’ e-mail response rates were not statistically-significantly different from the other two groups’. Expressed normative view correlated with self-estimated rate of e-mail responsiveness, especially among the ethicists. Empirically measured e-mail responsiveness, however, was at best weakly correlated with self-estimated e-mail responsiveness; and professors’ expressed normative attitude was not statistically-significantly correlated with empirically measured e-mail responsiveness for any of the three groups.

    [Keywords: attitude-behavior consistency, ethics, experimental philosophy, moral psychology, morality, social psychology]

    [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  7. 2014-schwitzgebel.pdf: ⁠, Eric Schwitzgebel, Joshua Rust (2014; philosophy):

    Do philosophy professors specializing in ethics behave, on average, any morally better than do other professors? If not, do they at least behave more consistently with their expressed values? These questions have never been systematically studied.

    We examine the self-reported moral attitudes and moral behavior of 198 ethics professors, 208 non-ethicist philosophers, and 167 professors in departments other than philosophy on eight moral issues: academic society membership, voting, staying in touch with one’s mother, vegetarianism, organ and blood donation, responsiveness to student emails, charitable giving, and honesty in responding to survey questionnaires. On some issues, we also had direct behavioral measures that we could compare with the self-reports.

    Ethicists expressed somewhat more stringent normative attitudes on some issues, such as vegetarianism and charitable donation. However, on no issue did ethicists show unequivocally better behavior than the two comparison groups. Our findings on attitude-behavior consistency were mixed: ethicists showed the strongest relationship between behavior and expressed moral attitude regarding voting but the weakest regarding charitable donation.

    We discuss implications for several models of the relationship between philosophical reflection and real-world moral behavior.

    [Keywords: applied ethics, attitude-behavior consistency, charity, ethics, experimental philosophy, moral behavior, moral psychology, vegetarianism, voting]

    [See Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  8. 2015-schwitzgebel.pdf: ⁠, Eric Schwitzgebel (2015-08-01; philosophy):

    We examined the effects of framing and order of presentation on professional philosophers’ judgments about a moral puzzle case (the “”) and a version of the Tversky & Kahneman scenario.

    Professional philosophers exhibited substantial framing effects and order effects, and were no less subject to such effects than was a comparison group of non-philosopher academic participants. Framing and order effects were not reduced by a forced delay during which participants were encouraged to consider “different variants of the scenario or different ways of describing the case”. Nor were framing and order effects lower among participants reporting familiarity with the trolley problem or with loss-aversion framing effects, nor among those reporting having had a stable opinion on the issues before participating the experiment, nor among those reporting expertise on the very issues in question.

    Thus, for these scenario types, neither framing effects nor order effects appear to be reduced even by high levels of academic expertise.

    [Keywords: expertise, framing effects, loss aversion, order effects, reasoning, social cognition]

    [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  9. 2016-schwitzgebel.pdf: ⁠, Eric Schwitzgebel, Joshua Rust (2016; philosophy):

    Arguably, one of the aims of studying ethics is moral self-improvement. In ancient philosophy, moral self-improvement is often treated as the foremost aim for the student of ethics—for example, in Aristotle (fourth-century BCE/​​​​1962), Confucius (fifth-century BCE/​​​​2003), and Epictetus (second-century CE/​​​​2008). Twentieth-century and twenty-first-century philosophers might overall tend to aim their ethical reflections more toward theoretical discovery than toward self-improvement, but moral self-improvement plausibly remains among the goals of a substantial portion of professional ethicists to the extent they use their philosophical training in ethics to help them reflect on, for example, to what extent they have a duty to donate to charity or whether it is morally permissible to eat meat, with the thought of acting upon their conclusions.

    Two related questions thus invite empirical treatment: Is philosophical moral reflection of the sort practiced by professional ethicists in fact morally improving? And how do professional ethicists’ explicitly espoused moral principles relate to their practical moral behavior? Individual ethicists’ lives are sometimes examined with these questions in mind, especially the life of Martin Heidegger, notorious for his endorsement of Nazism (eg., Sluga 1993; Young 1997; Faye 2005/​​​​2009); and general claims about the behavior of ethicists are sometimes made based on personal experience or broad plausibility considerations (eg., Posner 1999; Knobe & Leiter 2007; Moeller 2009). However, until recently, systematic, quantitative research on these issues has been entirely lacking. To date, all published quantitative studies of the issue have been led by Eric Schwitzgebel and Joshua Rust, the two authors of this chapter, mostly in collaboration with each other. Our general finding is this: On average, professional ethicists’ behavior is indistinguishable from the behavior of comparison groups of professors in other fields. Also, in one multivariable study, we find ethicists neither more nor less likely than other professors to act in accord with their expressed moral attitudes.

    [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.]

  10. 2019-schonegger.pdf: ⁠, Philipp Schönegger, Johannes Wagner (2019-03-19; philosophy):

    What is the relation between ethical reflection and moral behavior? Does professional reflection on ethical issues positively impact moral behaviors? To address these questions, Schwitzgebel and Rust empirically investigated if philosophy professors engaged with ethics on a professional basis behave any morally better or, at least, more consistently with their expressed values than do non-ethicist professors. Findings from their original US-based sample indicated that neither is the case, suggesting that there is no positive influence of ethical reflection on moral action.

    In the study at hand, we attempted to cross-validate this pattern of results in the German-speaking countries and surveyed 417 professors using a replication-extension research design. Our results indicate a successful replication of the original effect that ethicists do not behave any morally better compared to other academics across the vast majority of normative issues. Yet, unlike the original study, we found mixed results on normative attitudes generally. On some issues, ethicists and philosophers even expressed more lenient attitudes. However, one issue on which ethicists not only held stronger normative attitudes but also reported better corresponding moral behaviors was vegetarianism.

    [Keywords: Experimental philosophy, replication-extension, moral attitudes, moral behavior]

    …In a series of studies by Eric Schwitzgebel, co-authored with Joshua Rust (⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ) and Fiery Cushman (⁠, ), the empirical relations between the normative attitudes and moral behaviors of professional ethicists have been investigated systematically. [See further: Ethicist Ethics⁠.] Their research covered a variety of methodologies and topics like evaluations of peer opinion concerning ethicists’ moral behavior, research on order-effects concerning ethical intuitions in trolley cases, and ethicists’ voting behavior. In their most well-known study (2014), Schwitzgebel and Rust compared the self-reported and directly observed moral behaviors of professional ethicists with their espoused normative views to determine their consistency. As their findings proved to be both empirically informative and highly relevant to how one thinks about the relation between ethical reflection and action, this underscores the value of investigating ethicists to understand the nature and corollaries of ethical reflection. In order to contribute to and validate this pioneering work, we herewith conducted a replication attempt of Schwitzgebel and Rust’s seminal study in German-speaking countries.

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