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Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy Volume 3$
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Tania Lombrozo, Joshua Knobe, and Shaun Nichols

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198852407

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198852407.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 July 2021

I Owe You an Explanation

I Owe You an Explanation

Children’s Beliefs about When People Are Obligated to Explain their Actions

(p.213) 9 I Owe You an Explanation
Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy Volume 3

Shaylene Nancekivell

Ori Friedman

Oxford University Press

To cohesively interact with others, we must recognize that we are sometimes obligated to explain our actions. In three experiments, this chapter provides evidence that young children are aware of social norms governing when explanations are owed, and judge that people are obligated to explain their actions when they directly interfere with others’ goals. In Experiment 1, 3–6-year-olds were more likely to say that agents had to explain their actions when they interfered with others’ goals, than when agents did not interfere. In Experiment 2, children differentiated between when explanations are owed and when they are desired. Finally, in Experiment 3, children showed they understand that an explanation is owed to the person whose goal was frustrated, but not to other people. These findings build on recent work in experimental philosophy on norms that govern the content of utterances, by examining norms governing when certain utterances should be said.

Keywords:   explanation, obligation, goals, child development, interference

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