© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/156770909X12489459066147 Journal of Cognition and Culture 9 (2009) 149–169 brill.nl/jocc When Moral Intuitions Are Immune to the Law: A Case Study of Euthanasia and the Act-Omission Distinction in Th e Netherlands M. D. Hauser a,b F. Tonnaer c,d M. Cima c a Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA b Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA c Forensic Psychiatric Centre, De Rooyse Wissel, Oostrum, Th e Netherlands d Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, Th e Netherlands Abstract Legal scholars and philosophers have long debated the moral standing of the act-omission distinction, with some favoring the view that actions ought to be considered as morally diﬀ erent from omissions, while others disagree. Several empirical studies suggest that people judge actions that cause harm as worse than omissions that cause the same harm with the implication that our folk psychology commonly perceives this distinction as morally signiﬁ cant. Here we explore the robustness of people’s moral intuitions, and in particular, whether the omission bias can be eliminated in the face of explicit and familiar laws that take away
Journal of Cognition and Culture – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2009
Keywords: EUTHANASIA; LAW; COGNITIVE PENETRABILITY; UNIVERSALITY; MORAL INTUITIONS; OMISSION BIAS
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