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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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Learning From Doing

Learning From Doing

Intervention and Causal Inference

(p.67) 5 Learning From Doing
Causal Learning

Laura Schulz

Tamar Kushnir

Alison Gopnik

Oxford University Press

This chapter starts from the premise that much of children's knowledge takes the form of abstract, coherent, causal claims that are learned from, and defeasible by, evidence. This view is consistent with an interventionist view of causal knowledge, formalized in computational models using causal Bayes net representations. The chapter reviews empirical studies suggesting that, consistent with this account, preschoolers use patterns of evidence to: a) create novel, effective interventions; b) infer the structure of causal relationships, including relationships involving unobserved causes; c) accurately predict distinct outcomes from observed evidence and evidence generated by interventions; d) integrate novel evidence with prior beliefs; and e) distinguish informative interventions from confounded ones.

Keywords:   cognitive development, preschoolers, causal knowledge, causal models, action, probabilistic models, statistical learning, Bayesian inference, Bayes nets

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