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Summary

These papers explore a range of issues in metaphysics by drawing on empirical work.  While much of the current work has been focused on the ordinary understanding of causation (see Experimental Philosophy: Causation), other work has focused on issues such as event individuation, mereology, personal identity, and temporal experience. This work is largely focused on bringing certain empirical results to bear on relevant disputes in metaphysics.  But some of this work—especially early work by Alvin Goldman and more recently Laurie Paul—is more programmatic (e.g., arguing for the relevance of cognitive science to metaphysics).

Key works Personal identity: Nichols & Bruno 2010.  Temporal experience: Paul 2010.  Event individuation: Goldman 2007.  Mereology: Rose & Schaffer 2017.  Causation: see Experimental Philosophy: Causation.
Introductions

For useful overviews of the relevance of cognitive science to metaphysics see e.g., Goldman 1987, Goldman 1989, Goldman 2007, Paul 2010

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  1. Agentive Explanations of Temporal Passage Experiences and Beliefs.Anthony Bigg, Andrew J. Latham, Kristie Miller & Shira Yechimovitz - manuscript
    Several philosophers have suggested that certain aspects of people’s experience of agency partly explains why people tend to report that it seems to them, in perceptual experience, as though time robustly passes. In turn, it has been suggested that people come to believe that time robustly passes on the basis of its seeming to them in experience that it does. We argue that what require explaining is not just that people report that it seems to them as though time robustly (...)
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  2. Common-sense temporal ontology: an experimental study.Ernesto Graziani, Francesco Orilia, Elena Capitani & Roberto Burro - 2023 - Synthese 202 (6):1-39.
    Temporal ontology is the philosophical debate on the existence of the past and the future. It features a three-way confrontation between supporters of presentism (the present exists, the past and the future do not), pastism (the past and the present exist, the future does not), and eternalism (the past, the present, and the future all exist). Most philosophers engaged in this debate believe that presentism is much more in agreement with common sense than the rival views; moreover, most of them (...)
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  3. Teleology beyond explanation.Sehrang Joo, Sami R. Yousif & Joshua Knobe - 2021 - Mind and Language 38 (1):20-41.
    People often think of objects teleologically. For instance, we might understand a hammer in terms of its purpose of driving in nails. But how should we understand teleological thinking in the first place? This paper separates mere teleology (simply ascribing a telos) and teleological explanation (thinking something is explained by its telos) by examining cases where an object was designed for one purpose but is now widely used for a different purpose. Across four experiments, we show that teleology judgments and (...)
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  4. Intuitions in the Ontology of Musical Works.Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė - 2022 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (2):455-474.
    An impressive variety of theories of ontology of musical works has been offered in the last fifty years. Recently, the ontologists have been paying more attention to methodological issues, in particular, the problem of determining criteria of a good theory. Although different methodological approaches involve different views on the importance and exact role of intuitiveness of a theory, most philosophers writing on the ontology of music agree that intuitiveness and compliance with musical practice play an important part when judging theories. (...)
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  5. Theological Determinism & Free Will: A Philosophical Approach.Atikur Rahman & Mahia Tabassum Tamim - manuscript
    Theological determinism challenges Free Will, an important part of the theistic view. Determinants claim that free will is incompatible with God's omniscience and that God is responsible for everything that happens. I argue in this paper that so-called theological determinism never denies free will and that free will is compatible with God's omniscience.
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  6. The Whole Story: Identity and Narrative.Marya Schechtman - forthcoming - In Kevin Tobia (ed.), Experimental Philosophy of Identity and the Self. Bloomsbury. pp. 99-110.
    The burgeoning use of experimental methods to consider questions of human nature and personal identity has been a fruitful and exciting development, yielding significant and provocative results. This essay argues for the value of including reflection on the treatment of these topics in fictional narratives to complement and deepen results in experimental philosophy. Experimental vignettes are by necessity brief and schematic. This is part of what makes them so effective in the experimental context. The space afforded for detail, complexity, and (...)
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  7. Pundits and Possibilities: Philosophers Are Not Modal Experts.Daniel Kilov & Caroline Hendy - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (1):824-843.
    Wilfrid Sellars [1962: 1] described philosophy as an attempt to ‘understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term’. But it is distinctive of philosophy that many of us are interested not only in how the world is but in ways that it could be. That is, philosophy is concerned with facts about modality. Some of the most important arguments in philosophy hinge on modal premises, and philosophers have (...)
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  8. Robust passage phenomenology probably does not explain future-bias.Andrew J. Latham, Kristie Miller, Christian Tarsney & Hannah Tierney - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-23.
    People are ‘biased toward the future’: all else being equal, we typically prefer to have positive experiences in the future, and negative experiences in the past. Several explanations have been suggested for this pattern of preferences. Adjudicating among these explanations can, among other things, shed light on the rationality of future-bias: For instance, if our preferences are explained by unjustified beliefs or an illusory phenomenology, we might conclude that they are irrational. This paper investigates one hypothesis, according to which future-bias (...)
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  9. O chamado à decisão entre o conhecimento da vontade de Deus e o arrependimento na teologia escatológico-existencial de Bultmann.Luiz Carlos Mariano da Rosa - 2020 - Caminhando 25 (3):161-184.
    Se a pregação de Jesus consiste no pressuposto da teologia neotestamentária, segundo o pensamento de Bultmann, a análise do seu conteúdo emerge como fundamental para a compreensão do querigma cristão e da construção literário-teológica da comunidade primitiva. Dessa forma, o artigo se detém na pregação ético-escatológica de Jesus, que anuncia o reino de Deus e o tempo da decisão e o chamado à decisão, que converge para a radicalidade e exige a obediência escatológica enquanto realização da vontade de Deus. Assim, (...)
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  10. A Oração Entre Yahveh e Abba no Monoteísmo Judaico-Cristão: Das práticas mágico-religiosas do politeísmo ao relacionamento pactual do Deus de Abraão, de Isaque e de Jacó.Luiz Carlos Mariano Da Rosa - 2020 - Saarbrücken, Alemanha: Novas Edições Acadêmicas (OmniScriptum Publishing Group).
    Sublinhando que a evocação dos acontecimentos que tiveram lugar ab origine convergir, segundo a perspectiva mítico-religiosa, para a manifestação das sagradas, o Prof. Luiz Carlos Mariano da Rosa, baseado no método histórico-comparativo de Mircea Eliade, atribui à prece a condição de suscitar o poder sagrado em um processo capaz de exercer influência sobrenatural e alcançar os recônditos da consciência, como afirma Marcel Mauss. Dessa forma, sobrepondo-se às práticas mágico-religiosas e aos processos litúrgico-rituais do politeísmo, a oração característica do monoteísmo de (...)
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  11. Empirical Studies on Truth and the Project of Re‐engineering Truth.Kevin Https://Orcidorg Reuter & Georg Brun - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 2106 (3):493-517.
    Most philosophers have largely downplayed any relevance of multiple meanings of the folk concept of truth in the empirical domain. However, confusions about what truth is have surged in political and everyday discourse. In order to resolve these confusions, we argue that we need a more accurate picture of how the term ‘true’ is in fact used. Our experimental studies reveal that the use of ‘true’ shows substantial variance within the empirical domain, indicating that ‘true’ is ambiguous between a correspondence (...)
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  12. Cause, "Cause", and Norm.John Schwenkler & Eric Sievers - 2022 - In Pascale Willemsen & Alex Wiegmann (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Causation. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 123-144.
    This chapter presents a series of experiments that elicit causal judgments using statements that do not include the verb "to cause". In particular, our interest is in exploring the extent to which previously observed effects of normative considerations on agreement with what we call "cause"-statements, i.e. those of the form "X caused ..." extend as well to those of the form "X V-ed Y", where V is a lexical causative. Our principal finding is that in many cases the effects do (...)
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  13. An Empirical Investigation of Purported Passage Phenomenology.Andrew J. Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (7):353-386.
    It has widely been assumed, by philosophers, that most people unambiguously have a phenomenology as of time passing, and that this is a datum that philosophical theories must accommodate. Moreover, it has been assumed that the greater the extent to which people have said phenomenology, the more likely they are to endorse a dynamical theory of time. This paper is the first to empirically test these assumptions. Surprisingly, our results do not support either assumption. One experiment instead found the reverse (...)
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  14. The Myth of the Common Sense Conception of Color.Zed Adams & Nat Hansen - 2020 - In Teresa Marques & Åsa Wikforss (eds.), Shifting Concepts: The Philosophy and Psychology of Conceptual Variability. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 106-127.
    Some philosophical theories of the nature of color aim to respect a "common sense" conception of color: aligning with the common sense conception is supposed to speak in favor of a theory and conflicting with it is supposed to speak against a theory. In this paper, we argue that the idea of a "common sense" conception of color that philosophers of color have relied upon is overly simplistic. By drawing on experimental and historical evidence, we show how conceptions of color (...)
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  15. Causal Attributions and Corpus Analysis.Sytsma Justin, Bluhm Roland, Willemsen Pascale & Reuter Kevin - 2019 - In Eugen Fischer & Mark Curtis (eds.), Methodological Advances in Experimental Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury Press.
    Although philosophers have often held that causation is a purely descriptive notion, a growing body of experimental work on ordinary causal attributions using questionnaire methods indicates that it is heavily influenced by normative information. These results have been the subject of sceptical challenges. Additionally, those who find the results compelling have disagreed about how best to explain them. In this chapter, we help resolve these debates by using a new set of tools to investigate ordinary causal attributions—the methods of corpus (...)
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  16. A Marriage is an Artefact and not a Walk that We Take Together: An Experimental Study on the Categorization of Artefacts.Corrado Roversi, Anna M. Borghi & Luca Tummolini - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):527-542.
    Artefacts are usually understood in contrast with natural kinds and conceived as a unitary kind. Here we propose that there is in fact a variety of artefacts: from the more concrete to the more abstract ones. Moreover, not every artefact is able to fulfil its function thanks to its physical properties: Some artefacts, particularly what we call “institutional” artefacts, are symbolic in nature and require a system of rules to exist and to fulfil their function. Adopting a standard method to (...)
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Experimental Philosophy: Causation
  1. Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Causation.Pascale Willemsen & Alex Wiegmann (eds.) - 2022 - Bloomsbury Publishing.
    What is the connection between causation and responsibility? Is there a best way to theorize philosophically about causation? Which factors determine and influence what we judge to be the cause of something? Bringing together interdisciplinary research from experimental philosophy, traditional philosophy and psychology, this collection showcases the most recent developments and approaches to questions about causation. Chapters discuss the diverse theoretical ramifications of empirical findings in experimental philosophy of causation, providing a comprehensive survey of key issues such as the perception (...)
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  2. Causation, Norms, and Cognitive Bias.Levin Güver & Markus Kneer - manuscript
    Extant research has shown that ordinary causal judgments are sensitive to normative factors. For instance, agents who violate a norm are standardly deemed more causal than norm-conforming agents in identical situations. In this paper, we explore two competing explanations for the Norm Effect: the Responsibility View and the Bias View. According to the former, the Norm Effect arises because ordinary causal judgment is intimately intertwined with moral responsibility. According to the alternative view, the Norm Effect is the result of a (...)
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  3. The categories of causation.John Schwenkler - 2023 - Synthese 203 (1):1-35.
    This paper is an essay in what Austin (_Proc Aristotel Soc_ 57: 1–30, 1956–1957) called "linguistic phenomenology". Its focus is on showing how the grammatical features of ordinary causal verbs, as revealed in the kinds of linguistic constructions they can figure in, can shed light on the nature of the processes that these verbs are used to describe. Specifically, drawing on the comprehensive classification of English verbs founds in Levin (_English verb classes and alternations: a preliminary investigation_, University of Chicago (...)
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  4. Experimental Metaphysics: Causation.Paul Henne - 2023 - In Alexander Max Bauer & Stephan Kornmesser (eds.), The Compact Compendium of Experimental Philosophy. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter. pp. 133-162.
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  5. Causation, Foreseeability, and Norms.Levin Güver & Markus Https://Orcidorg Kneer - 2023 - Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 45:888–895.
    A growing body of literature has revealed ordinary causal judgement to be sensitive to normative factors, such that a norm-violating agent is regarded more causal than their non-norm-violating counterpart. In this paper, we explore two competing explanations for this phenomenon: the Responsibility View and the Bias View. The Bias View, but not the Responsibility View, predicts features peripheral to the agent’s responsibility to impact causal attributions. In a series of three preregistered experiments (N = 1162), we present new evidence that (...)
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  6. Poisoned Babies, Shot Fathers, and Ruined Experiments – Experimental Evidence in Favor of the Compositionality Constraint of Actual Causation.Alexander Max Bauer & Stephan Kornmesser - 2023 - Philosophy of Science 90 (3):489-517.
    Livengood and Sytsma (2020) challenge the Compositionality Constraint of Actual Causation (CCAC), according to which each intermediary of a causal chain is an effect of its predecessor and a cause of its successor link. In several studies, they find support for their hypothesis that the CCAC is not in accordance with ordinary causal attributions of laypeople. We argue that there are three interrelated problems in their studies’ design that we call the Causality-Responsibility Confusion (CRC), the Intermediary-Ontology Confusion (IOC), and the (...)
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  7. Clause-internal coherence as presupposition resolution.Kelsey Sasaki & Daniel Altshuler - forthcoming - Proceedings of Amsterdam Colloquium 2022.
    Hobbs (2010) introduced ‘clause-internal coherence’ (CIC) to describe inferences in, e.g., ‘A jogger was hit by a car,’ where the jogging is understood to have led to the car-hitting. Cohen & Kehler (2021) argue that well-known pragmatic tools cannot account for CIC, motivating an enrichment account familiar from discourse coherence research. An outstanding question is how to compositionally derive CIC from coherence relations. This paper takes strides in answering this question. It first provides experimental support for the existence of CIC (...)
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  8. An interaction effect of norm violations on causal judgment.Maureen Gill, Jonathan F. Kominsky, Thomas F. Icard & Joshua Knobe - 2022 - Cognition 228 (C):105183.
    Existing research has shown that norm violations influence causal judgments, and a number of different models have been developed to explain these effects. One such model, the necessity/sufficiency model, predicts an interac- tion pattern in people’s judgments. Specifically, it predicts that when people are judging the degree to which a particular factor is a cause, there should be an interaction between (a) the degree to which that factor violates a norm and (b) the degree to which another factor in the (...)
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  9. Answers at Gunpoint: On Livengood and Sytsma’s Revolver Case.Alexander Max Bauer & Jan Romann - 2022 - Philosophy of Science 89 (1):180-192.
    Jonathan Livengood and Justin Sytsma have published a series of studies on “Actual Causation and Compositionality,” in which they investigate causal attributions of laypeople. We use one of their vignettes to follow up on their research. Our findings cast doubt on their conclusion that ordinary causal attributions tend to violate the compositionality constraint if one looks at cases in which someone is responsible for an effect by way of an intermediary that does not share in the responsibility.
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  10. Norms Affect Prospective Causal Judgments.Paul Henne, Kevin O’Neill, Paul Bello, Sangeet Khemlani & Felipe De Brigard - 2021 - Cognitive Science 45 (1):e12931.
    People more frequently select norm-violating factors, relative to norm- conforming ones, as the cause of some outcome. Until recently, this abnormal-selection effect has been studied using retrospective vignette-based paradigms. We use a novel set of video stimuli to investigate this effect for prospective causal judgments—i.e., judgments about the cause of some future outcome. Four experiments show that people more frequently select norm- violating factors, relative to norm-conforming ones, as the cause of some future outcome. We show that the abnormal-selection effects (...)
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  11. Cause and burn.David Rose, Eric Sievers & Shaun Nichols - 2021 - Cognition 207 (104517):104517.
    Many philosophers maintain that causation is to be explicated in terms of a kind of dependence between cause and effect. These “dependence” theories are opposed by “production” accounts which hold that there is some more fundamental causal “oomph”. A wide range of experimental research on everyday causal judgments seems to indicate that ordinary people operate primarily with a dependence-based notion of causation. For example, people tend to say that absences and double preventers are causes. We argue that the impression that (...)
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  12. Counterfactual Thinking and Recency Effects in Causal Judgment.Paul Henne, Aleksandra Kulesza, Karla Perez & Augustana Houcek - manuscript
    People tend to judge more recent events, relative to earlier ones, as the cause of some particular outcome. For instance, people are more inclined to judge that the last basket, rather than the first, caused the team to win the basketball game. This recency effect, however, reverses in cases of overdetermination: people judge that earlier events, rather than more recent ones, caused the outcome when the event is individually sufficient but not individually necessary for the outcome. In five experiments (N (...)
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  13. Reversing the Norm Effect on Causal Attributions.John Schwenkler & Justin Sytsma - manuscript
    Research in the psychology of causal thinking has frequently revealed effects of normative considerations on causal attributions, where participants tend to assign causality more strongly to agents who violate a norm in bringing about an outcome. Across several experiments, we show that it is possible to reverse this norm effect when the outcome in question is good rather than bad: in these cases, participants assign causality more strongly to a norm-conforming agent than to an agent who violates a norm. We (...)
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  14. It's Not My Fault, Your Honor, I'm Only the Enabler.Michelle B. Cowley-Cunningham - 2007 - In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Vol. 29, 2007, Extended Abstract. Nashville, TN, USA: pp. 1755.
    According to the mental model theory, causes and enablers differ in meaning, and therefore in their logical consequences (Goldvarg & Johnson-Laird, 2001). They are consistent with different possibilities. Recent psychological studies have argued to the contrary, and suggested that linguistic cues guide this distinction (Kuhnmünch & Beller, 2005). The issue is important because neither British nor American law recognizes this distinction (e.g., Roberts & Zuckerman, 2004). Yet, in our view, it is central to human conceptions of causality. Hence, in two (...)
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  15. Intuitions on the Individuation of Musical Works. An Empirical Study.Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė & Vilius Dranseika - 2020 - British Journal of Aesthetics 60 (3):253-282.
    Philosophers often consider better compliance with prevalent pre-theoretical intuitions to be an advantage of a theory of ontology of musical works. However, despite many predictions of what these intuitions on relevant questions might be, so far there is only one experimental philosophy study on the repeatability of musical works by Christopher Bartel. We decided to examine the intuitions concerning the individuation of musical works by creating scenarios reflecting the differences in the positions of musical ontologists: pure and timbral sonicism, instrumentalism, (...)
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  16. Exceptionalist naturalism: human agency and the causal order.John Turri - 2018 - Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 71 (2):396-410.
    This paper addresses a fundamental question in folk metaphysics: how do we ordinarily view human agency? According to the transcendence account, we view human agency as standing outside of the causal order and imbued with exceptional powers. According to a naturalistic account, we view human agency as subject to the same physical laws as other objects and completely open to scientific investigation. According to exceptionalist naturalism, the truth lies somewhere in between: we view human agency as fitting broadly within the (...)
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  17. Mentalizing Objects.David Rose - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy 4.
    We have a mentalistic view of objects. This is due to the interdependence of folk psychology and folk physics, where these are interconnected by what I call Teleological Commingling. When considering events that don’t involve agents, we naturally default to tracking intentions, goal-directed processes, despite the fact that agents aren’t involved. We have a deep-seated intentionality bias which is the result of the pervasive detection of agency cues, such as order or non-randomness. And this gives rise to the Agentive Worldview: (...)
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  18. Norms and the meaning of omissive enabling conditions.Paul Henne, Paul Bello, Sangeet Khemlani & Felipe De Brigard - 2019 - Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society 41.
    People often reason about omissions. One line of research shows that people can distinguish between the semantics of omissive causes and omissive enabling conditions: for instance, not flunking out of college enabled you (but didn’t cause you) to graduate. Another line of work shows that people rely on the normative status of omissive events in inferring their causal role: if the outcome came about because the omission violated some norm, reasoners are more likely to select that omission as a cause. (...)
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  19. causal reasoning about genetics: synthesis and future directions.Kate E. Lynch, Ilan Dar Nimrod, Paul Edmund Griffiths & James Morandini - 2019 - Behavior Genetics 2 (49):221-234.
    When explaining the causes of human behavior, genes are often given a special status. They are thought to relate to an intrinsic human 'essence', and essentialist biases have been shown to skew the way in which causation is assessed. Causal reasoning in general is subject to other pre-existing biases, including beliefs about normativity and morality. In this synthesis we show how factors which influence causal reasoning can be mapped to a framework of genetic essentialism, which reveals both the shared and (...)
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  20. A counterfactual explanation for the action effect in causal judgment.Paul Henne, Laura Niemi, Ángel Pinillos, Felipe De Brigard & Joshua Knobe - 2019 - Cognition 190 (C):157-164.
    People’s causal judgments are susceptible to the action effect, whereby they judge actions to be more causal than inactions. We offer a new explanation for this effect, the counterfactual explanation: people judge actions to be more causal than inactions because they are more inclined to consider the counterfactual alternatives to actions than to consider counterfactual alternatives to inactions. Experiment 1a conceptually replicates the original action effect for causal judgments. Experiment 1b confirms a novel prediction of the new explanation, the reverse (...)
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  21. Folk intuitions of Actual Causation: A Two-Pronged Debunking Explanation.David Rose - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1323-1361.
    How do we determine whether some candidate causal factor is an actual cause of some particular outcome? Many philosophers have wanted a view of actual causation which fits with folk intuitions of actual causation and those who wish to depart from folk intuitions of actual causation are often charged with the task of providing a plausible account of just how and where the folk have gone wrong. In this paper, I provide a range of empirical evidence aimed at showing just (...)
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  22. Normality and actual causal strength.Thomas F. Icard, Jonathan F. Kominsky & Joshua Knobe - 2017 - Cognition 161 (C):80-93.
    Existing research suggests that people's judgments of actual causation can be influenced by the degree to which they regard certain events as normal. We develop an explanation for this phenomenon that draws on standard tools from the literature on graphical causal models and, in particular, on the idea of probabilistic sampling. Using these tools, we propose a new measure of actual causal strength. This measure accurately captures three effects of normality on causal judgment that have been observed in existing studies. (...)
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  23. Folk judgments of causation.Joshua Knobe - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (2):238-242.
    Experimental studies suggest that people’s ordinary causal judgments are affected not only by statistical considerations but also by moral considerations. One way to explain these results would be to construct a model according to which people are trying to make a purely statistical judgment but moral considerations somehow distort their intuitions. The present paper offers an alternative perspective. Specifically, the author proposes a model according to which the very same underlying mechanism accounts for the influence of both statistical and moral (...)
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  24. Two types of typicality: Rethinking the role of statistical typicality in ordinary causal attributions.Justin Sytsma, Jonathan Livengood & David Rose - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4):814-820.
    Empirical work on the use of causal language by ordinary people indicates that their causal attributions tend to be sensitive not only to purely descriptive considerations, but also to broadly moral considerations. For example, ordinary causal attributions appear to be highly sensitive to whether a behavior is permissible or impermissible. Recently, however, a consensus view has emerged that situates the role of permissibility information within a broader framework: According to the consensus, ordinary causal attributions are sensitive to whether or not (...)
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  25. Causal superseding.Jonathan F. Kominsky, Jonathan Phillips, Tobias Gerstenberg, David Lagnado & Joshua Knobe - 2015 - Cognition 137 (C):196-209.
    When agents violate norms, they are typically judged to be more of a cause of resulting outcomes. In this paper, we suggest that norm violations also affect the causality attributed to other agents, a phenomenon we refer to as "causal superseding." We propose and test a counterfactual reasoning model of this phenomenon in four experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 provide an initial demonstration of the causal superseding effect and distinguish it from previously studied effects. Experiment 3 shows that this causal (...)
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  26. Unifying morality’s influence on non-moral judgments: The relevance of alternative possibilities.Jonathan Phillips, Jamie B. Luguri & Joshua Knobe - 2015 - Cognition 145 (C):30-42.
    Past work has demonstrated that people’s moral judgments can influence their judgments in a number of domains that might seem to involve straightforward matters of fact, including judgments about freedom, causation, the doing/allowing distinction, and intentional action. The present studies explore whether the effect of morality in these four domains can be explained by changes in the relevance of alternative possibilities. More precisely, we propose that moral judgment influences the degree to which people regard certain alternative possibilities as relevant, which (...)
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  27. Highlighting the Causal Meaning of Causal Test Questions in Contexts of Norm Violations.Jana Samland & Michael Waldmann - forthcoming - Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society.
    Experiments have shown that prescriptive norms often influence causal inferences. The reason for this effect is still not clear. One problem of the studies is that the term ‘cause’ in the test questions is ambiguous and can refer to both the causal mechanism and the agent’s accountability. Possibly subjects interpreted the causal test question as a request to assess accountability rather than causality. Scenarios that put more stress on the causal mechanism should therefore yield no norm effect. Consequently, Experiment 1 (...)
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  28. Graded Causation and Defaults.Joseph Y. Halpern & Christopher Hitchcock - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):413-457.
    Recent work in psychology and experimental philosophy has shown that judgments of actual causation are often influenced by consideration of defaults, typicality, and normality. A number of philosophers and computer scientists have also suggested that an appeal to such factors can help deal with problems facing existing accounts of actual causation. This article develops a flexible formal framework for incorporating defaults, typicality, and normality into an account of actual causation. The resulting account takes actual causation to be both graded and (...)
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  29. The good, the bad, and the timely: How temporal order and moral judgment influence causal selection.Kevin Reuter, Lara Kirfel, Raphael van Riel & Luca Barlassina - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5 (1336):1-10.
    Causal selection is the cognitive process through which one or more elements in a complex causal structure are singled out as actual causes of a certain effect. In this paper, we report on an experiment in which we investigated the role of moral and temporal factors in causal selection. Our results are as follows. First, when presented with a temporal chain in which two human agents perform the same action one after the other, subjects tend to judge the later agent (...)
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  30. Experimental Philosophy and Causal Attribution.Jonathan Livengood & David Rose - 2016 - In Wesley Buckwalter & Justin Sytsma (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell. pp. 434–449.
    Humans often attribute the things that happen to one or another actual cause. In this chapter, we survey some recent philosophical and psychological research on causal attribution. We pay special attention to the relation between graphical causal modeling and theories of causal attribution. We think that the study of causal attribution is one place where formal and experimental techniques nicely complement one another.
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  31. Causation, norms, and omissions: A study of causal judgments.Randolph Clarke, Joshua Shepherd, John Stigall, Robyn Repko Waller & Chris Zarpentine - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (2):279-293.
    Many philosophical theories of causation are egalitarian, rejecting a distinction between causes and mere causal conditions. We sought to determine the extent to which people's causal judgments discriminate, selecting as causes counternormal events—those that violate norms of some kind—while rejecting non-violators. We found significant selectivity of this sort. Moreover, priming that encouraged more egalitarian judgments had little effect on subjects. We also found that omissions are as likely as actions to be judged as causes, and that counternormative selectivity appears to (...)
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  32. Manipulating Morality: Third‐Party Intentions Alter Moral Judgments by Changing Causal Reasoning.Jonathan Phillips & Alex Shaw - 2014 - Cognitive Science 38 (8):1320-1347.
    The present studies investigate how the intentions of third parties influence judgments of moral responsibility for other agents who commit immoral acts. Using cases in which an agent acts under some situational constraint brought about by a third party, we ask whether the agent is blamed less for the immoral act when the third party intended for that act to occur. Study 1 demonstrates that third-party intentions do influence judgments of blame. Study 2 finds that third-party intentions only influence moral (...)
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  33. Predicting moral judgments from causal judgments.Emmanuel Chemla, Paul Egré & Philippe Schlenker - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (1):21-48.
    Several factors have been put forward to explain the variability of moral judgments for superficially analogous moral dilemmas, in particular in the paradigm of trolley cases. In this paper we elaborate on Mikhail's view that (i) causal analysis is at the core of moral judgments and that (ii) causal judgments can be quantified by linguistic methods. According to this model, our moral judgments depend both on utilitarian considerations (whether positive effects outweigh negative effects) and on a representation of the causal (...)
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  34. Demoralizing causation.David Danks, David Rose & Edouard Machery - 2013 - Philosophical Studies (2):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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