Archive for February 26th, 2010


The Neuroscientific Challenge to Criminal Responsibility

Lecture delivered by Prof. Stephen J. Morse, which was devoted to the problem of criminal responsibility in the light of recent neuroscientific achievements.



Short review: Anticipated emotions as Guides to choice, Barbara Mellers Peter McGraw, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio


Anticipated emotions as Guides to choice, Barbara Mellers Peter McGraw, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

(You can find it here.)


The paper regard an impact of emotions on decision making process. The role of emotions in this process seems to be unquestioned and consequently in ethics, morality and law where it seems to be a central issue. Moreover recent results in neuroscience researches on moral judgments show how important are emotions for the above mentioned decision making process.

In the paper authors present the theory of anticipated pleasure called decision affect theory and show how it relates to the decision making. It is claimed that when making decision, people anticipated the pleasure or pain of future outcomes, weigh those feelings by the chances they will occur, and select the option with grater average pleasure. Emotions are compared to the utility term which determines a choice from a set of possible of choices. The authors show some differences in utility and emotions from the other hand. Utility is rather stable description of outcomes, emotions are influenced by many variables. For example the outcome of the unchosen gamble was more appealing anticipated pleasure decreased. This is because people anticipate regret when they imagine having made the wrong choice. The authors show changes in the magnitude of emotions when the effect was more suprising. The authors came to conclusions that utilities do differ from anticipated pleasure. In most theories of choice utilities depend only on the status quo, bit no other reference points. Anticipated pleasure depends on multiple reference point. Furthermore in most theories of choice utilities are assumed to be independent from beliefs. In contrast anticipated pleasure of outcomes varies systematically with beliefs about their occurrence; anticipated feeling associated with suprising outcomes are amplified relative to anticipated feeling associated with expected outcomes.


Paper is short and rather more general. However it shows the one important thing that I briefly outlined in the paper “Extremes meet each other”ł maybe general rule determining particular choice in the decision making process is the simple one {max (U)} and maybe it is enough to replicate some kind of intelligent decision maker however replicating a real human decision making process require good definition of utility. And when transforming emotions to utility or utility to emotions hard stuff begins. If we want to build a human level, or more- human alike program we should program the utility according to all possible knowledge on emotional results of particular states-actions. This particular thing seems to be imposible.

Tags: ,