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Two Types of Typicality: Rethinking the Role of Statistical Typicality in Ordinary Causal Attributions

Sytsma, Justin and Livengood, Jonathan and Rose, David (2011) Two Types of Typicality: Rethinking the Role of Statistical Typicality in Ordinary Causal Attributions. [Published Article or Volume]

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Recent work on the role of norms in the use of causal language by ordinary people has
led to a consensus among several researchers: The consensus position is that causal attributions
are sensitive to both statistical norms and prescriptive norms. But what is a statistical norm? We
argue that there are at least two types that should be distinguished—agent-level statistical norms
and population-level statistical norms. We then suggest an alternative account of ordinary causal
attributions about agents (the responsibility view), noting that this view motivates divergent
predictions about the effect of information about each of the two types of statistical norms noted.
Further, these predictions run counter to those made by the consensus position. With this set-up
in place, we present the results of a series of new experimental studies testing our predictions.
The results are in line with the responsibility view, while indicating that the consensus position is
seriously mistaken.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Sytsma, Justin
Livengood, Jonathan
Rose, David
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Psychology/Psychiatry
General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 27 May 2010
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2011 10:56
Item ID: 5372
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

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