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Philosophical Psychology Vol. 18, No. 2, April 2005, pp. 259272
 

Summary: Philosophical Psychology
Vol. 18, No. 2, April 2005, pp. 259272
The Supposed Competition between
Theories of Human Causal Inference
David Danks
Newsome ((2003). The debate between current versions of covariation and mechanism
approaches to causal inference. Philosophical Psychology, 16, 87107.) 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.
1. Introduction
The vast majority of our decisions are influenced--at least in part--by our beliefs
about the causal structure of the world. Thus, an obvious psychological problem

  

Source: Andrews, Peter B. - Department of Mathematical Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University

 

Collections: Mathematics