Causal Cognition: Physical Connections, Proportionality, and the Role of Normative Theory

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Woodward, James
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This paper, like its companion (“Normative Theory and Descriptive Psychology in Understanding Causal Reasoning: The Role of Interventions and Invariance”) explores some ways in which, on the one hand, normative (philosophical or theoretical) theorizing about causation and causal reasoning and, on the other, empirical psychological investigations into causal cognition can be mutually illuminating. The paper carries out this exploration in connection with a variety of topics—the role of information about the presence of a “physical connection” between cause and effect in causal judgment, the role of “proportionality” (cf. Yablo, 1992) in choosing the appropriate “level” of explanation, and the role of mechanism information in causal judgment