Mind and Language 26 (1):21-52 (2011)
How do people understand questions about cause and prevent? Some theories propose that people affirm that A causes B if A's occurrence makes a difference to B's occurrence in one way or another. Other theories propose that A causes B if some quantity or symbol gets passed in some way from A to B. The aim of our studies is to compare these theories' ability to explain judgements of causation and prevention. We describe six experiments that compare judgements for causal paths that involve a mechanism, i.e. a continuous process of transmission or exchange from cause to effect, against paths that involve no mechanism yet a change in the cause nevertheless brings about a change in the effect. Our results show that people prefer to attribute cause when a mechanism links cause to effect. In contrast, prevention is sensitive both to the presence of an interruption to a causal mechanism and to a change in the outcome in the absence of a mechanism. In this sense, ‘prevent’ means something different than ‘cause not'. We discuss the implications of our results for existing theories of causation
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References found in this work BETA
Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.Wesley Salmon - 1984 - Princeton University Press.
Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Unifying Morality’s Influence on Non-Moral Judgments: The Relevance of Alternative Possibilities.Jonathan Phillips, Jamie B. Luguri & Joshua Knobe - 2015 - Cognition 145:30-42.
Causation: Empirical Trends and Future Directions.David Rose & David Danks - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (9):643-653.
Causation: Interactions Between Philosophical Theories and Psychological Research.James Woodward - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (5):961-972.
A Force-Theoretic Framework for Event Structure.Bridget Copley & Heidi Harley - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (2):103-158.
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