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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

There are deep intuitions that the meaning of conditional statements relate to probabilistic law-like dependencies. In this chapter it is argued that these intuitions can be captured by representing conditionals in causal Bayes nets (CBNs) and that this conjecture is theoretically productive. This proposal is borne out in a variety of results. First, causal considerations can provide a unified account of abstract and causal conditional reasoning. Second, a recent model (Fernbach & Erb, 2013) can be extended to the explicit causal conditional reasoning paradigm (Byrne, 1989), making some novel predictions on the way. Third, when embedded in the broader cognitive system involved in reasoning, causal model theory can provide a novel explanation for apparent violations of the Markov condition in causal conditional reasoning (Ali et al, 2011). Alternative explanations are also considered (see, Rehder, 2014a) with respect to this evidence. While further work is required, the chapter concludes that the conjecture that conditional reasoning is underpinned by representations and processes similar to CBNs is indeed a productive line of research.

Keywords: conditional, causal Bayes nets, conditional reasoning, abstract, cognition

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