Philosophical Accounts of Causal Explanation and the Scientific Practice of Psychophysics

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Kietzmann, Tim Christian
conference paper description
Philosophical accounts of causality and causal explanation can provide important guidelines for the experimental sciences and valid experimental setups. In addition to the obvious requirement of logic validity, however, the approaches must account for the generally accepted experimental practice to be truly useful. To investigate this important interconnection, the current paper evaluates different philosophical accounts of causation and causal explanation in the light of typical psychophysical experiments. In particular, eye-tracking setups will be used to evaluate Granger Causality, Probabilistic Accounts and Woodwardʼs manipulationist approach. Upon coarse reading, the manipulationist perspective seems most suitable for a practical application, but there are manifold problems hidden in the details of the definitions. However, with some adjustments via standard tools of experimental design, these problems can be overcome and leave Woodwardʼs account as the method of choice.