MADLAB researchers discuss work on role of blame in perceived moral obligation

brainVlad Chituc and Paul Henne, researchers with the Moral Attitudes and Decision-Making MADLAB, recently published an article in the New York Times describing the outcome of a project examining perceptions of moral obligations. Based on an earlier theory by KIE Faculty Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the team surveyed hundreds of people, presenting various scenarios to gauge what they viewed as a moral obligation based on the ability to fulfill that promise.

In our study, we presented hundreds of participants with stories like the one above and asked them questions about obligation, ability and blame. Did they think someone should keep a promise she made but couldn’t keep? Was she even capable of keeping her promise? And how much was she to blame for what happened?