Whose Mind Matters More: The moral agent or the artist? The role of intent in ethics and aesthetics


The current study directly investigates the similarities and differences in theory of mind for moral judgment versus aesthetic evaluation. We target the role of intent, the mind of the moral agent or the artist, i.e. whether the moral act or work of art was intentional or accidental, for objective judgments (e.g., quality) versus subjective judgments (e.g., preference). We show that (1) intent matters more for objective versus subjective judgments, in ethics and aesthetics, and (2) overall, intent matters more for moral judgments than aesthetic evaluations. These findings suggest that an objective-subjective dimension may similarly describe judgments in both ethics and aesthetics, and that in general we may be more influenced by the mind of the moral agent than by the mind of the artist when evaluating their impact on the world.

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