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Causal Superseding

Kominsky, Jonathan and Phillips, Jonathan and Gerstenberg, Tobias and Lagnado, David and Knobe, Joshua (2015) Causal Superseding. Cognition, 137. pp. 196-209.


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When agents violate norms, they are typically judged to be more of a cause of resulting outcomes. In this paper, we suggest that norm violations also affect the causality attributed to other agents, a phenomenon we refer to as ‘‘causal superseding.’’ We propose and test a counterfactual reasoning model of this phenomenon in four experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 provide an initial demonstration of the causal superseding effect and distinguish it from previously studied effects. Experiment 3 shows that this causal superseding effect is dependent on a particular event structure, following a prediction of our counterfactual model. Experiment 4 demonstrates that causal superseding can occur with violations of non-moral norms. We propose a model of the superseding effect based on the idea of counterfactual

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Kominsky, Jonathan
Phillips, Jonathan
Gerstenberg, Tobias
Lagnado, David
Knobe, Joshua
Keywords: causation; causal cognition; experimental philosophy
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Depositing User: Joshua Knobe
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2016 15:16
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2016 15:16
Item ID: 12190
Journal or Publication Title: Cognition
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Date: 2015
Page Range: pp. 196-209
Volume: 137

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