Document Detail

Causal-explanatory pluralism: How intentions, functions, and mechanisms influence causal ascriptions.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20801434     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Process    
Both philosophers and psychologists have argued for the existence of distinct kinds of explanations, including teleological explanations that cite functions or goals, and mechanistic explanations that cite causal mechanisms. Theories of causation, in contrast, have generally been unitary, with dominant theories focusing either on counterfactual dependence or on physical connections. This paper argues that both approaches to causation are psychologically real, with different modes of explanation promoting judgments more or less consistent with each approach. Two sets of experiments isolate the contributions of counterfactual dependence and physical connections in causal ascriptions involving events with people, artifacts, or biological traits, and manipulate whether the events are construed teleologically or mechanistically. The findings suggest that when events are construed teleologically, causal ascriptions are sensitive to counterfactual dependence and relatively insensitive to the presence of physical connections, but when events are construed mechanistically, causal ascriptions are sensitive to both counterfactual dependence and physical connections. The conclusion introduces an account of causation, an "exportable dependence theory," that provides a way to understand the contributions of physical connections and teleology in terms of the functions of causal ascriptions.
Tania Lombrozo
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Cognitive psychology     Volume:  61     ISSN:  1095-5623     ISO Abbreviation:  Cogn Psychol     Publication Date:  2010 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-11-15     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0241111     Medline TA:  Cogn Psychol     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  303-32     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley, 3210 Tolman Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
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