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Tool Use and Causal Cognition$
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Teresa McCormack, Christoph Hoerl, and Stephen Butterfill

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571154.001.0001

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A Philosopher Looks at Tool Use and Causal Understanding

A Philosopher Looks at Tool Use and Causal Understanding

Chapter:
(p.18) 2 A Philosopher Looks at Tool Use and Causal Understanding
Source:
Tool Use and Causal Cognition
Author(s):

James Woodward

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571154.003.0002

This chapter presents a kind of typology of different sorts of abilities that might be associated with the notion of causal understanding, the acquisition of causal beliefs, causally informed action patterns, and so on. It asks how these various abilities relate to one another, whether some may play a role in the acquisition of others, and so on. Drawing on relevant philosophical literature, it shows that different philosophical accounts of causation track, at least to some degree, different and dissociable competences that go together to make up adult causal understanding. The chapter is organized as follows. It begins with a sketch of competing philosophical accounts of causation, emphasizing the difference between claims about causal relationships as these exist in the world and claims about the way in which we and other animals represent causal relationships. It then explores the contrast between two different families of approaches to (or ways of thinking about) causation, one of which is called ‘difference-making’ and the other ‘geometrical-mechanical’. The remainder of the chapter discusses elements that seem relevant to whether there is adult human-like causal cognition.

Keywords:   tool use, causal learning, causal cognition, causation, difference-making, geometrical-mechanical

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