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Causal LearningPsychology, Philosophy, and Computation$
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Alison Gopnik and Laura Schulz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176803.001.0001

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An Interventionist Approach to Causation in Psychology

An Interventionist Approach to Causation in Psychology

Chapter:
(p.58) 4 An Interventionist Approach to Causation in Psychology
Source:
Causal Learning
Author(s):

John Campbell (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176803.003.0005

Interventionist analyses make explicit the conception of causation used in experimental science, but have not been applied to the case of mental causation. This chapter addresses some of the basic problems of mental causation in interventionist terms. It proposes a way of finding the “right level” of variables to use in characterizing the causal workings of a system, whether we should be describing causal relations in psychological rather than biological terms. It argues that a notion of “soft” intervention is needed when discussing causation by reasons. Finally, we can make sense of the idea of causation without mechanisms, and we may have to do that when we are considering the outcomes of combinations of psychological and biological variables.

Keywords:   causation, mental causation, soft intervention, rationality

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