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date: 22 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Causal relations between specific events are often critically important for learning, understanding, and reasoning about the world. This chapter examines both philosophical accounts of the nature of singular causation, and psychological theories of people’s judgments and reasoning about singular causation. It explores the content of different classes of theories, many of which are based on either some type of physical process connecting cause and effect, or else some kind of difference-making (or counterfactual) impact of the cause on the effect. In addition, this chapter examines various theoretical similarities and differences, particularly between philosophical and psychological theories that appear superficially similar. One consistent theme that emerges in almost every account is the role of general causal relations in shaping human judgments and understandings about singular causation.

Keywords: singular causation, physical process, difference-making, reasoning, counterfactual, effect

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