Why Your Causal Intuitions are Corrupt: Intermediate and Enabling Variables

Christopher Clarke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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When evaluating theories of causation, intuitions should not play a decisive role, not even intuitions in flawlessly-designed thought experiments. Indeed, no coherent theory of causation can respect the typical person’s intuitions in redundancy (pre-emption) thought experiments, without disrespecting their intuitions in threat-and-saviour (switching/short-circuit) thought experiments. I provide a deductively sound argument for these claims. Amazingly, this argument assumes absolutely nothing about the nature of causation. I also provide a second argument, whose conclusion is even stronger: the typical person’s causal intuitions are thoroughly unreliable.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Unions Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under grant agreement no 715530.

Publisher Copyright: © 2023, The Author(s).


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