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Causal CognitionA Multidisciplinary Debate$
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Dan Sperber, David Premack, and Ann James Premack

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198524021

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524021.001.0001

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Causal knowledge in animals

Causal knowledge in animals

Chapter:
(p.26) 2 Causal knowledge in animals
Source:
Causal Cognition
Author(s):

Hans Kummer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524021.003.0002

Causal knowledge is one way to influence certain parts of one's environment through prediction and action. While all animal species exert some control by using their knowledge of interdependent events, only humans are known to have explicit causal reasoning. This chapter suggests that in the course of evolution, animals evolved alternatives. Associative learning among contiguous events leads to weak causal knowledge — weak because it is restricted to effects that immediately follow causes, and because it is largely unaided by previous knowledge about what types of events in the environment are likely to be causally connected. In contrast, strong causal knowledge performs the functions of causal reasoning; it is based on evolved programs that encode one class of important events that are probable or certain cause of another class.

Keywords:   causal knowledge, animals, weak causal knowledge, strong causal knowledge, causal reasoning

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