Order Effects, Moral Cognition, and Intelligence

  • Marcello GuariniEmail author
  • Jordan Benko
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 376)


Order effects have to do with how the order in which information is presented to an agent can affect how the information is processed. This paper examines the issue of order effects in the classification of moral situations. Some order effects mark a localized failure of intelligence. The hypothesis examined herein is that the processes or mechanisms that make some undesirable order effects possible may also have highly desirable effects. This will be done by comparing two artificial neural networks (ANNs) that classify moral situations, one subject to order effects and another that is not subject to them. The ANN subject to order effects has advantages in learning and noise tolerance over the other ANN – features hard to ignore in modeling intelligence. After presenting modeling results, there will be discussions of the implications of order effects for (a) cognitive modeling and artificial intelligence as well as (b) debates between moral particularists and generalists.


Artificial intelligence Intelligence Moral cognition Moral generalism Moral particularism Order effects 



Earlier versions of this paper were presented at (a) the International Association for Computing and Philosophy conference at the University of Maryland, USA, July 2013; (b) the Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence conference at Oxford University, UK, September 2013; and (c) the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric at the University of Windsor, Canada, November 2013. Thanks to the many participants at these events for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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