David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Psychology 18 (2):259 – 272 (2005)
Newsome ((2003). The debate between current versions of covariation and mechanism approaches to causal inference. Philosophical Psychology, 16, 87-107.) recently published a critical review of psychological theories of human causal inference. In that review, he characterized covariation and mechanism theories, the two dominant theory types, as competing, and offered possible ways to integrate them. I argue that Newsome has misunderstood the theoretical landscape, and that covariation and mechanism theories do not directly conflict. Rather, they rely on distinct sets of reliable indicators of causation, and focus on different types of causation (type vs. token). There are certainly debates in the research field, but the theoretical landscape is not as fractured as Newsome suggests, and a potential unifying framework has already emerged using causal Bayes nets. Philosophical work on causal epistemology matters for psychologists, but not in the way Newsome suggests.
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References found in this work BETA
Judea Pearl (2000). Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference. Cambridge University Press.
James Woodward (2003). Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation. Oxford University Press.
Wesley Salmon (1984). Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World. Princeton University Press.
Nancy Cartwright (1989). Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement. Oxford University Press.
Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver (2000). Thinking About Mechanisms. Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Citations of this work BETA
David Rose & David Danks (2013). In Defense of a Broad Conception of Experimental Philosophy. Metaphilosophy 44 (4):512-532.
David Danks (2013). Functions and Cognitive Bases for the Concept of Actual Causation. Erkenntnis 78 (1):111-128.
Samuel G. B. Johnson & Woo‐Kyoung Ahn (2015). Causal Networks or Causal Islands? The Representation of Mechanisms and the Transitivity of Causal Judgment. Cognitive Science 39 (7):1468-1503.
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