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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The theory of mental models accounts for the meanings of causal relations in daily life. They refer to seven temporally-ordered deterministic relations between possibilities, which include causes, prevents, and enables. Various factors—forces, mechanisms, interventions—can enter into the interpretation of causal assertions, but they are not part of their core meanings. Mental models represent only salient possibilities, and so they are identical for causes and enables, which may explain failures to distinguish between their meanings. Yet, reasoners deduce different conclusions from them, and distinguish between them in scenarios, such as those in which one event enables a cause to have its effect. Neither causation itself nor the distinction between causes and enables can be captured in the pure probability calculus. Statistical regularities, however, often underlie the induction of causal relations. The chapter shows how models help to resolve inconsistent causal scenarios and to reverse engineer electrical circuits.

Keywords: abduction, causes, deduction, determinism, explanation, mental models, nonmonotonic reasoning

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