Reversing the side-effect effect: the power of salient norms

Brian Robinson*, Paul Stey, Mark Alfano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In the last decade, experimental philosophers have documented systematic asymmetries in the attributions of mental attitudes to agents who produce different types of side effects. We argue that this effect is driven not simply by the violation of a norm, but by salient-norm violation. As evidence for this hypothesis, we present two new studies in which two conflicting norms are present, and one or both of them is raised to salience. Expanding one’s view to these additional cases presents, we argue, a fuller conception of the side-effect effect, which can be reversed by reversing which norm is salient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-206
Number of pages30
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Intentionality
  • Knobe effect
  • Norms
  • Side effect
  • Side-effect effect


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