Action Trees and Moral Judgment


should be sent to Joshua Knobe, Box 208306, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520 E-mail:


It has sometimes been suggested that people represent the structure of action in terms of an action tree. A question now arises about the relationship between this action tree representation and people’s moral judgments. A natural hypothesis would be that people first construct a representation of the action tree and then go on to use this representation in making moral judgments. The present paper argues for a more complex view. Specifically, the paper reports a series of experimental studies that appear to show that people’s moral judgments can actually impact their representations of the action tree itself.