Chapter

On the Importance of Causal Taxonomy

Christopher Hitchcock

in Causal Learning

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780195176803
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199958511 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176803.003.0008

Series: Oxford Series in Cognitive Development

On the Importance of Causal Taxonomy

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Using a standard counterexample to probabilistic theories of causation as an illustration, this chapter argues that there are a number of questions which one might ask about a putative causal relationship: Is it causal at all? What is the direction of the relationship? What is its strength? How does the cause compare with various alternatives? How stable is it under changes in background conditions? What are the pathways responsible for it? Many approaches in philosophy and psychology run these questions together. Together, the answers to these questions can provide a taxonomy of different kinds of causal relationships. By keeping these questions separately, we are able to clarify both philosophical applications of causation, and psychological claims about causal learning.

Keywords: causal learning; causal taxonomy; causal strength; causation; interventions; probabilistic causation; Hans Reichenbach; Patrick Suppes

Chapter.  10304 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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