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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A new paper on causality on line

A new paper by Steven Sloman is on line and open to discussion in our on line workshop on causality at

Thinking About Action. The Logic of Intervention in Reasoning and Decision Making

Gloria Origgi
Signaling and Intervening. Reply to Steven Sloman.

Sloman says that self-deception when people consider their actions as a signal of a certain state of affairs is not a failure of causal reasoning but a failure of interventional logic, that is, people treat a certain correlation as it were indipendent of their own intervention whereas it is dependent on it. But it seems to me that signaling cases are a failure also of normal causal reasoning, that is, people invert the role of causes and effects by giving causal powers to actions (as for example keeping the arm in the cold water for longer) that do not have any causal power on a particular state of affairs. Their causal reasoning about the correlation between having a healthy heart and keeping an arm longer under cold water is incorrect. It seems to me the the failure of interventional logic in these signaling cases depends on a wrong way of framing the causal structure of the situation