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Causal ModelsHow People Think about the World and Its Alternatives$
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Steven Sloman

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195183115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195183115.001.0001

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 What Is a Cause?

 What Is a Cause?

(p.21) 3 What Is a Cause?
Causal Models

Steven Sloman

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses what causes are. It argues that causal relations are not the only kind of invariance useful for representing the world. There are various kinds of mathematical representations, as well as logical and probabilistic representations. But noncausal forms of invariance are less useful than causality for describing relations among events because they don't naturally describe the processes that generate those events and because, therefore, they fail to support key forms of counterfactual inference as directly as causal models do. In short, only causal models represent the invariance that tells us what the effects of our and others' actions would be. As a result, people seem to be particularly adept at representing and reasoning with causal structure.

Keywords:   causal systems, causal relations, cause, effect

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