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Causal LearningPsychology, Philosophy, and Computation$
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Alison Gopnik and Laura Schulz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176803.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 September 2021

Causal Reasoning as Informed by the Early Development of Explanations

Causal Reasoning as Informed by the Early Development of Explanations

(p.261) 16 Causal Reasoning as Informed by the Early Development of Explanations
Causal Learning

Henry M. Wellman

David Liu

Oxford University Press

Research, theory, and modeling of causal reasoning typically focus on the causal predictions and interventions that result from causal understandings. This neglects the role of explanations in causal reasoning and their role in causal learning. This chapter argues that explanations play a central role in human causal reasoning and that this is true from very early in life. It supports and elaborates this argument by showing that explanations are important to even young children, as apparent in their being frequently sought and provided by them; that explanations are sometimes strikingly easier to provide than comparable predictions, making them a powerful platform for learning; and that engaging in explanatory reasoning aids children's and adults' learning. Causal explanatory reasoning deserves a central role in our understanding of the nature and development of human causal understanding.

Keywords:   childhood explanations, explanatory reasoning, causal learning, development

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