A Causal Model of Intentionality Judgment

Mind and Language 27 (2):154-180 (2012)
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We propose a causal model theory to explain asymmetries in judgments of the intentionality of a foreseen side-effect that is either negative or positive (Knobe, 2003). The theory is implemented as a Bayesian network relating types of mental states, actions, and consequences that integrates previous hypotheses. It appeals to two inferential routes to judgment about the intentionality of someone else's action: bottom-up from action to desire and top-down from character and disposition. Support for the theory comes from three experiments that test the prediction that bottom-up inference should occur only when the actor's primary objective is known. The model fits intentionality judgments reasonably well with no free parameters



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