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In “Putting the Trolley in Order: Experimental Philosophy and the Loop Case” (forthcoming in Philosophical Psychology), Alex Wiegmann, Joshua Alexander and Gerard Vong and I applied the methods of experimental philosophy to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous Loop Case. As the readers will know, Thomson used the Loop Case to cast doubt on the intuitively plausible Doctrine of Double Effect. Many philosophers share Thomson’s intuitions about this case (see, e.g. Kamm 2007 and Scanlon 2008), though not all (see, e.g. Otsuka 2008 and my paper in 2009). In fact, Frances Kamm developed the Doctrine of Triple Effect (DTE) in order to explain Loop intuitions.

In our study, we found that intuitions about the Loop Case vary according to the context in which the case is considered. We argue that this undermines the supposed evidential status of intuitions about the Loop Case.

A pre-publication version of the paper can be found here. We would very much welcome any comments/suggestions.

Readers may recall that the Loop Case was previously discussed here and here on Ethics Etc.


  1. 1. Posted by Ezio Di Nucci | June 21, 2011 8:05 pm

    I did something similar with Thomson’s new self-sacrifice three-way scenario first and then the traditional Trolley Problem (with students previously unfamiliar with both). When responding to the Trolley Problem only after having already responded to the self-sacrifice one, the majority no longer say that it is permissible to divert the trolley in Bystander at the Switch.
    I would be happy to send you the relevant paper if you like.

  2. 2. Posted by S. Matthew Liao | June 22, 2011 10:45 pm

    Thanks, Ezio! I’d love to see your paper. Would you send it along?

  3. 3. Posted by Ezio Di Nucci | February 13, 2012 4:02 pm

    Here’s the final version of the paper I mentioned in my previous comment:


  4. 4. Posted by S. Matthew Liao | February 14, 2012 7:39 am

    Thanks, Ezio! Looking forward to reading the final version.

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