PhilSci Archive

Getting Counterfactuals Right: The Perspective of the Causal Reasoner

Popa, Elena (2021) Getting Counterfactuals Right: The Perspective of the Causal Reasoner. [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
Text
counterfactuals final.pdf

Download (133kB) | Preview

Abstract

This paper aims to bridge philosophical and psychological research on causation, counterfactual
thought, and the problem of backtracking. Counterfactual approaches to causation such as that by
Lewis have ruled out backtracking, while on prominent models of causal inference interventionist
counterfactuals do not backtrack. However, on various formal models, certain backtracking
counterfactuals end up being true, and psychological evidence shows that people do sometimes
backtrack when answering counterfactual questions in causal contexts. On the basis of
psychological research, I argue that while ordinarily both kinds of counterfactuals may be
employed, non-backtracking counterfactuals are more easily used in causal inference because they
are consistent with temporal order information embedded in the mental simulation heuristic, and
they match reasoners’ experience of causation. While this approach is incompatible with the
ambitions of counterfactual theories that seek to establish the non-backtracking interpretation as the
only legitimate one, it can provide support for perspectival views on causation and open further
inquiry on the functions of causal and counterfactual thought in the context of causal models.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Popa, Elenaelena.popa@protonmail.com0000-0002-0494-1401
Keywords: counterfactuals; causation; causal reasoning; backtracking counterfactuals; causal projectivism; causal models
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Developmental Psychology
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Judgment and Decision Making
Depositing User: Dr. Elena Popa
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2021 04:57
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2021 04:57
Item ID: 19822
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Developmental Psychology
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Judgment and Decision Making
Date: 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19822

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item