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Profile: David Danks (Carnegie Mellon University)
  1. David Danks, Online Causal Structure Learning.
    Causal structure learning algorithms have focused on learning in ”batch-mode”: i.e., when a full dataset is presented. In many domains, however, it is important to learn in an online fashion from sequential or ordered data, whether because of memory storage constraints or because of potential changes in the underlying causal structure over the course of learning. In this paper, we present TDSL, a novel causal structure learning algorithm that processes data sequentially. This algorithm can track changes in the generating causal (...)
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  2. David Danks & Clark Glymour, Linearity Properties of Bayes Nets with Binary Variables.
    It is “well known” that in linear models: (1) testable constraints on the marginal distribution of observed variables distinguish certain cases in which an unobserved cause jointly influences several observed variables; (2) the technique of “instrumental variables” sometimes permits an estimation of the influence of one variable on another even when the association between the variables may be confounded by unobserved common causes; (3) the association (or conditional probability distribution of one variable given another) of two variables connected by a (...)
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  3. David Danks (2014). Perception, Causation, and Objectivity, Edited by Johannes Roessler, Hemdat Lerman, and Naomi Eilan. Mind 123 (490):635-639.
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  4. Erich Kummerfeld & David Danks (2014). Erratum To: Model Change and Methodological Virtues in Scientific Inference. Synthese 191 (14):3469-3472.
    Erratum to: Synthese DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0408-3Appendix 1: NotationLet \(X\) represent a sequence of data, and let \(X_B^t\) represent an i.i.d. subsequence of length \(t\) of data generated from distribution \(B\).We conjecture that the i.i.d. assumption could be eliminated by defining probability distributions over sequences of arbitrary length, though this complication would not add conceptual clarity. Let \(\mathbf{F}\) be a framework (in this case, a set of probability distributions or densities).Let any \(P(\,)\) functions be either a probability distribution function or probability density (...)
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  5. Erich Kummerfeld & David Danks (2014). Model Change and Reliability in Scientific Inference. Synthese 191 (12):2673-2693.
    One persistent challenge in scientific practice is that the structure of the world can be unstable: changes in the broader context can alter which model of a phenomenon is preferred, all without any overt signal. Scientific discovery becomes much harder when we have a moving target, and the resulting incorrect understandings of relationships in the world can have significant real-world and practical consequences. In this paper, we argue that it is common (in certain sciences) to have changes of context that (...)
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  6. David Danks (2013). Functions and Cognitive Bases for the Concept of Actual Causation. Erkenntnis 78 (1):111-128.
    Our concept of actual causation plays a deep, ever-present role in our experiences. I first argue that traditional philosophical methods for understanding this concept are unlikely to be successful. I contend that we should instead use functional analyses and an understanding of the cognitive bases of causal cognition to gain insight into the concept of actual causation. I additionally provide initial, programmatic steps towards carrying out such analyses. The characterization of the concept of actual causation that results is quite different (...)
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  7. David Danks & Joseph H. Danks (2013). The Moral Permissibility of Automated Responses During Cyberwarfare. Journal of Military Ethics 12 (1):18-33.
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  8. David Danks, David Rose & Edouard Machery (2013). Demoralizing Causation. Philosophical Studies:1-27.
    There have recently been a number of strong claims that normative considerations, broadly construed, influence many philosophically important folk concepts and perhaps are even a constitutive component of various cognitive processes. Many such claims have been made about the influence of such factors on our folk notion of causation. In this paper, we argue that the strong claims found in the recent literature on causal cognition are overstated, as they are based on one narrow type of data about a particular (...)
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  9. Conor Mayo-Wilson, Kevin Zollman & David Danks (2013). Wisdom of the Crowds Vs. Groupthink: Learning in Groups and in Isolation. International Journal of Game Theory 42 (3):695-723.
    We evaluate the asymptotic performance of boundedly-rational strategies in multi-armed bandit problems, where performance is measured in terms of the tendency (in the limit) to play optimal actions in either (i) isolation or (ii) networks of other learners. We show that, for many strategies commonly employed in economics, psychology, and machine learning, performance in isolation and performance in networks are essentially unrelated. Our results suggest that the appropriateness of various, common boundedly-rational strategies depends crucially upon the social context (if any) (...)
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  10. David Rose & David Danks (2013). In Defense of a Broad Conception of Experimental Philosophy. Metaphilosophy 44 (4):512-532.
    Experimental philosophy is often presented as a new movement that avoids many of the difficulties that face traditional philosophy. This article distinguishes two views of experimental philosophy: a narrow view in which philosophers conduct empirical investigations of intuitions, and a broad view which says that experimental philosophy is just the colocation in the same body of (i) philosophical naturalism and (ii) the actual practice of cognitive science. These two positions are rarely clearly distinguished in the literature about experimental philosophy, both (...)
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  11. David Rose & David Danks (2012). Causation: Empirical Trends and Future Directions. Philosophy Compass 7 (9):643-653.
    Empirical research has recently emerged as a key method for understanding the nature of causation, and our concept of causation. One thread of research aims to test intuitions about the nature of causation in a variety of classic cases. These experiments have principally been used to try to resolve certain debates within analytic philosophy, most notably that between proponents of transference and dependence views of causation. The other major thread of empirical research on our concept of causation has investigated the (...)
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  12. David Danks & Frederick Eberhardt (2011). Keeping Bayesian Models Rational: The Need for an Account of Algorithmic Rationality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (4):197-197.
    We argue that the authors’ call to integrate Bayesian models more strongly with algorithmic- and implementational-level models must go hand in hand with a call for a fully developed account of algorithmic rationality. Without such an account, the integration of levels would come at the expense of the explanatory benefit that rational models provide.
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  13. Frederick Eberhardt & David Danks (2011). Confirmation in the Cognitive Sciences: The Problematic Case of Bayesian Models. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 21 (3):389-410.
    Bayesian models of human learning are becoming increasingly popular in cognitive science. We argue that their purported confirmation largely relies on a methodology that depends on premises that are inconsistent with the claim that people are Bayesian about learning and inference. Bayesian models in cognitive science derive their appeal from their normative claim that the modeled inference is in some sense rational. Standard accounts of the rationality of Bayesian inference imply predictions that an agent selects the option that maximizes the (...)
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  14. Conor Mayo-Wilson, Kevin J. S. Zollman & David Danks (2011). The Independence Thesis: When Individual and Social Epistemology Diverge. Philosophy of Science 78 (4):653-677.
    In the latter half of the twentieth century, philosophers of science have argued (implicitly and explicitly) that epistemically rational individuals might compose epistemically irrational groups and that, conversely, epistemically rational groups might be composed of epistemically irrational individuals. We call the conjunction of these two claims the Independence Thesis, as they together imply that methodological prescriptions for scientific communities and those for individual scientists might be logically independent of one another. We develop a formal model of scientific inquiry, define four (...)
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  15. David Danks (2010). Not Different Kinds, Just Special Cases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):208-209.
    Machery's Heterogeneity Hypothesis depends on his argument that no theory of concepts can account for all the extant reliable categorization data. I argue that a single theoretical framework based on graphical models can explain all of the behavioral data to which this argument refers. These different theories of concepts thus (arguably) correspond to different special cases, not different kinds.
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  16. David Danks, Stephen Fancsali, Clark Glymour & Richard Scheines (2010). Comorbid Science? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):153 - 155.
    We agree with Cramer et al.'s goal of the discovery of causal relationships, but we argue that the authors' characterization of latent variable models (as deployed for such purposes) overlooks a wealth of extant possibilities. We provide a preliminary analysis of their data, using existing algorithms for causal inference and for the specification of latent variable models.
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  17. David Danks & David Rose (2010). Diversity in Representations; Uniformity in Learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):330-331.
    Henrich et al.'s conclusion that psychologists ought not assume uniformity of psychological phenomena depends on their descriptive claim that there is no pattern to the great diversity in psychological phenomena. We argue that there is a pattern: uniformity of learning processes (broadly construed), and diversity of (some) mental contents (broadly construed).
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  18. Clark Glymour, David Danks, Bruce Glymour, Frederick Eberhardt, Joseph Ramsey, Richard Scheines, Peter Spirtes, Choh Man Teng & Jiji Zhang (2010). Actual Causation: A Stone Soup Essay. Synthese 175 (2):169 - 192.
    We argue that current discussions of criteria for actual causation are ill-posed in several respects. (1) The methodology of current discussions is by induction from intuitions about an infinitesimal fraction of the possible examples and counterexamples; (2) cases with larger numbers of causes generate novel puzzles; (3) "neuron" and causal Bayes net diagrams are, as deployed in discussions of actual causation, almost always ambiguous; (4) actual causation is (intuitively) relative to an initial system state since state changes are relevant, but (...)
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  19. David Danks, The Psychology of Causal Perception and Reasoning.
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  20. David Danks & Frederick Eberhardt, Conceptual Problems in Statistics, Testing and Experimentation.
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  21. David Danks & Frederick Eberhardt (2009). Explaining Norms and Norms Explained. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (1):86-87.
    Oaksford & Chater (O&C) aim to provide teleological explanations of behavior by giving an appropriate normative standard: Bayesian inference. We argue that there is no uncontroversial independent justification for the normativity of Bayesian inference, and that O&C fail to satisfy a necessary condition for teleological explanations: demonstration that the normative prescription played a causal role in the behavior's existence.
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  22. Frank Wimberly, David Danks, Clark Glymour & Tianjiao Chu, Problems for Structure Learning: Aggregation and Computational Complexity.
  23. David Danks, Learning.
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  24. David Danks, Rational Analyses, Instrumentalism, and Implementations.
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  25. Benjamin Jantzen & David Danks (2008). Biological Codes and Topological Causation. Philosophy of Science 75 (3):259-277.
    Various causal details of the genetic process of translation have been singled out to account for its privileged status as a ‘code'. We explicate the biological uses of coding talk by characterizing a class of special causal processes in which topological properties are the causally relevant ones. This class contains both the process of translation and communication theoretic coding processes as special cases. We propose a formalism in terms of graphs for expressing our theory of biological codes and discuss its (...)
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  26. David Danks, Causal Learning From Observations and Manipulations.
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  27. David Danks (2007). Reasons as Causes in Bayesian Epistemology. Journal of Philosophy 104 (9):464-474.
    In everyday matters, as well as in law, we allow that someone’s reasons can be causes of her actions, and often are. That correct reasoning accords with Bayesian principles is now so widely held in philosophy, psychology, computer science and elsewhere that the contrary is beginning to seem obtuse, or at best quaint. And that rational agents should learn about the world from energies striking sensory inputs nerves in people—seems beyond question. Even rats seem to recognize the difference between correlation (...)
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  28. David Danks, Theory Unification and Graphical Models in Human Categorization.
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  29. Clark Glymour & David Danks (2007). Reasons as Causes in Bayesian Epistemology. Journal of Philosophy 104 (9):464-474.
    In everyday matters, as well as in law, we allow that someone’s reasons can be causes of her actions, and often are. That correct reasoning accords with Bayesian principles is now so widely held in philosophy, psychology, computer science and elsewhere that the contrary is beginning to seem obtuse, or at best quaint. And that rational agents should learn about the world from energies striking sensory inputs nerves in people—seems beyond question. Even rats seem to recognize the difference between correlation (...)
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  30. Richard Scheines, Matt Easterday & David Danks (2007). Teaching the Normative Theory of Causal Reasoning. In Alison Gopnik & Laura Schulz (eds.), Causal Learning: Psychology, Philosophy, and Computation. Oxford University Press. 119--38.
    There is now substantial agreement about the representational component of a normative theory of causal reasoning: Causal Bayes Nets. There is less agreement about a normative theory of causal discovery from data, either computationally or cognitively, and almost no work investigating how teaching the Causal Bayes Nets representational apparatus might help individuals faced with a causal learning task. Psychologists working to describe how naïve participants represent and learn causal structure from data have focused primarily on learning from single trials under (...)
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  31. Tianjiao Chu, David Danks & Clark Glymour, Data Driven Methods for Nonlinear Granger Causality: Climate Teleconnection Mechanisms.
    Tianjaou Chu, David Danks, and Clark Glymour. Data Driven Methods for Nonlinear Granger Causality: Climate Teleconnection Mechanisms.
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  32. David Danks (2005). Scientific Coherence and the Fusion of Experimental Results. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):791-807.
    A pervasive feature of the sciences, particularly the applied sciences, is an experimental focus on a few (often only one) possible causal connections. At the same time, scientists often advance and apply relatively broad models that incorporate many different causal mechanisms. We are naturally led to ask whether there are normative rules for integrating multiple local experimental conclusions into models covering many additional variables. In this paper, we provide a positive answer to this question by developing several inference rules that (...)
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  33. David Danks (2005). The Supposed Competition Between Theories of Human Causal Inference. Philosophical Psychology 18 (2):259 – 272.
    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 (...)
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  34. David Danks, Constraint-Based Human Causal Learning.
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  35. David Danks, Psychological Theories of Categorizations as Probabilistic Models.
    David Danks. Psychological Theories of Categorizations as Probabilistic Models.
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  36. Alison Gopnik, Clark Glymour, David M. Sobel, Laura Schulz, Tamar Kushnir & David Danks, A Theory of Causal Learning in Children: Causal Maps and Bayes Nets.
    We propose that children employ specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate “causal map” of the world: an abstract, coherent, learned representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously understood in terms of the formalism of directed graphical causal models, or “Bayes nets”. Children’s causal learning and inference may involve computations similar to those for learning causal Bayes nets and for predicting with them. Experimental results suggest that 2- to 4-year-old children (...)
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  37. David Danks, Equilibria of the Rescorla-Wagner Model.
    The Rescorla–Wagner model has been a leading theory of animal causal induction for nearly 30 years, and human causal induction for the past 15 years. Recent theories (especially Psychol. Rev. 104 (1997) 367) have provided alternative explanations of how people draw causal conclusions from covariational data. However, theoretical attempts to compare the Rescorla–Wagner model with more recent models have been hampered by the fact that the Rescorla–Wagner model is an algorithmic theory, while the more recent theories are all computational. This (...)
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  38. David Danks, Learning Integrated Structure From Distributed Databases with Overlapping Variables.
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  39. David Danks, Clark Glymour & Peter Spirtes (2003). The Computational and Experimental Complexity of Gene Perturbations for Regulatory Network Search. In W. H. Hsu, R. Joehanes & C. D. Page (eds.), Proceedings of IJCAI-2003 workshop on learning graphical models for computational genomics.
    Various algorithms have been proposed for learning (partial) genetic regulatory networks through systematic measurements of differential expression in wild type versus strains in which expression of specific genes has been suppressed or enhanced, as well as for determining the most informative next experiment in a sequence. While the behavior of these algorithms has been investigated for toy examples, the full computational complexity of the problem has not received sufficient attention. We show that finding the true regulatory network requires (in the (...)
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  40. David Danks, Thomas L. Griffiths & Joshua B. Tenenbaum, Dynamical Causal Learning.
    Current psychological theories of human causal learning and judgment focus primarily on long-run predictions: two by estimating parameters of a causal Bayes nets (though for different parameterizations), and a third through structural learning. This paper focuses on people’s short-run behavior by examining dynamical versions of these three theories, and comparing their predictions to a real-world dataset.
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  41. David Danks, Learning the Causal Structure of Overlapping Variable Sets.
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  42. David Danks (1950). British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (3):77-91.
    A pervasive feature of the sciences, particularly the applied sciences, is an experimental focus on a few (often only one) possible causal connections. At the same time, scientists often advance and apply relatively broad models that incorporate many different causal mechanisms. We are naturally led to ask whether there are normative rules for integrating multiple local experimental conclusions into models covering many additional variables. In this paper, we provide a positive answer to this question by developing several inference rules that (...)
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