The Costs and Benefits of Calculation and Moral Rules
Coauthor(s): Will M. Bennis, Douglas L. Medin.
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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 adherence to moral rules. The general tenor of recent
research suggests that adherence to moral rules is associated with systematic biases and that systematic cost-benefit analysis is a
normatively superior decision strategy. This article queries both the merits of cost-benefit analyses and the shortcomings of moral
rules. We argue that outside the very narrow domain in which 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
Source: Perspectives on Psychological Science
Bartels, Daniel, Will M. Bennis, and Douglas L. Medin. "The Costs and Benefits of Calculation and Moral Rules." Perspectives on Psychological Science 5, no. 2 (March 2010): 187-202.