The role of mechanism beliefs in causal reasoning

  • Ahn W
  • Kalish C
  • 61


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(from the book) The authors describe and defend a contrasting approach to the study of causal reasoning and causal explanation, what they call the "mechanism approach." The authors contrast their approach with what they call the "regularity view," as exemplified in the contemporary work of C. Glymour and P. W. Cheng, and stemming ultimately from D. Hume's regularity analysis of causation in the 18th century. The authors find the 2 approaches differ principally in their conceptions of how people think about causal relations and in their positions on whether the knowledge of mechanisms per se plays a distinctive role in identifying causes and offering causal explanations. They offer several examples of how mechanistic understanding seems to affect explanatory understanding in ways that go far beyond those arising from the tracking of regularities.

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  • W Ahn

  • Cw Kalish

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