Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1462467
 
 

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The Costs and Benefits of Calculation and Moral Rules


Will M. Bennis


Northwestern University

Douglas L. Medin


affiliation not provided to SSRN

Daniel M. Bartels


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

August 26, 2009

Perspectives on Psychological Science, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
There has been a recent upsurge of research on moral judgment and decision making. One important issue with this body of work concerns the relative advantages of calculating costs and benefits versus adhering to moral rules. The general tenor of recent research suggests that (i) adherence to moral rules is associated with systematic biases, and (ii) systematic cost-benefit analysis is a normatively superior decision strategy. The current paper queries both the merits of cost-benefit analyses and the shortcomings of moral rules. We argue that outside the very narrow domain where consequences can be unambiguously anticipated, it is not at all clear that calculation processes optimize outcomes. In addition, there are good reasons to believe that following moral rules can lead to superior consequences in certain contexts. More generally, different modes of decision making can be seen as adaptations to particular environments.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 59

Keywords: decision making, cost-benefit analysis, moral rules, consequentialism, deontology, decision modes

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Date posted: September 8, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Bennis, Will M. and Medin, Douglas L. and Bartels, Daniel M., The Costs and Benefits of Calculation and Moral Rules (August 26, 2009). Perspectives on Psychological Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1462467

Contact Information

Will M. Bennis (Contact Author)
Northwestern University ( email )
2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
Douglas L. Medin
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
Daniel M. Bartels
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
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