TitleCausal Reasoning with Mental Models
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKhemlani, SS, Barbey, AK, Johnson-Laird, PN
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Other NumbersArticle #849

This paper outlines the model-based theory of causal reasoning. It postulates that the core meanings of causal assertions are deterministic and refer to temporally-ordered sets of possibilities: A causes B to occur means that given A, B occurs, whereas A enables B to occur means that given A, it is possible for B to occur. The paper shows how mental models represent such assertions, and how these models underlie deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning yielding explanations. It reviews evidence both to corroborate the theory and to account for phenomena sometimes taken to be incompatible with it. Finally, it reviews neuroscience evidence indicating that mental models for causal inference are implemented within lateral prefrontal cortex.

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