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The Extent of Causal Superseding

Sytsma, Justin (2018) The Extent of Causal Superseding. [Preprint]

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Research indicates that norms matter for ordinary causal attributions. Across a range of cases in which two agents jointly bring about an outcome, with one violating a norm while the other does not, causal ratings are higher for the agent who violates the norm. Building off such findings, Kominsky et al. (2015) note a related phenomenon that they term “causal superseding”—whether or not one agent violates a norm also affects causal ratings for the other agent. Kominsky et al. offer an explanation of this phenomenon (the counterfactual sufficiency account) and describe the results of four experiments testing their account. In this paper, I explore the proposed phenomenon further. I present a sequence of new studies covering a range of cases, finding that the superseding effect is not as consistent as Kominsky et al. would predict, that the effect does not occur in all of the cases where they say it should, and that it sometimes occurs in cases where they say it shouldn’t. Finally, I offer an alternative deflationary explanation of causal superseding, presenting evidence suggesting that it is simply a context effect.

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Item Type: Preprint
Sytsma, Justin
Keywords: Causation, Causal Attributions, Superseding, Norms, Responsibility
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 04:17
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 04:17
Item ID: 15416
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Date: 3 December 2018

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