Meta-Analysis of the Day

Adam Feltz and Florian Cova have recently made publicly available their excellent meta-analysis on the influence of affect on determinism intuitions. Their paper, entitled “Moral Responsibility and Free Will: A Meta-Analysis“, is forthcoming in Consciousness and Cognition.

Here is the abstract:

Fundamental beliefs about free will and moral responsibility are often thought to shape our ability to have healthy relationships with others and ourselves. Emotional reactions have also been shown to have an important and pervasive impact on judgments and behaviors. Recent research suggests that emotional reactions play a prominent role in judgments about free will, influencing judgments about determinism’s relation to free will and moral responsibility. However, the extent to which affect influences these judgments is unclear. We conducted a metaanalysis to estimate the impact of affect. Our meta-analysis indicates that beliefs in free will are largely robust to emotional reactions.

As far as I know, this is the first published meta-analysis in experimental philosophy. Substantively, it provides convincing evidence that the original explanation for the abstract / concrete determinism asymmetry, which was given in Shaun Nichols and Joshua Knobe’s “Moral Responsibility and Determinism: The Cognitive Science of Folk Intuitions“, cannot be correct as it stands. Methodologically, it represents another encouraging step toward an open and collaborative field.

And, for those readers in the UK, you can catch Florian Cova on September 19th in Oxford at the British Society of Aesthetics annual meeting, and on September 23rd in Leeds at our workshop on values and concepts of art!


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