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Causal Responsibility and Counterfactuals.

Lagnado, DA; Gerstenberg, T; Zultan, R; (2013) Causal Responsibility and Counterfactuals. Cogn Sci , 37 (6) pp. 1036-1073. 10.1111/cogs.12054. Green open access

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Abstract

How do people attribute responsibility in situations where the contributions of multiple agents combine to produce a joint outcome? The prevalence of over-determination in such cases makes this a difficult problem for counterfactual theories of causal responsibility. In this article, we explore a general framework for assigning responsibility in multiple agent contexts. We draw on the structural model account of actual causation (e.g., Halpern & Pearl, 2005) and its extension to responsibility judgments (Chockler & Halpern, 2004). We review the main theoretical and empirical issues that arise from this literature and propose a novel model of intuitive judgments of responsibility. This model is a function of both pivotality (whether an agent made a difference to the outcome) and criticality (how important the agent is perceived to be for the outcome, before any actions are taken). The model explains empirical results from previous studies and is supported by a new experiment that manipulates both pivotality and criticality. We also discuss possible extensions of this model to deal with a broader range of causal situations. Overall, our approach emphasizes the close interrelations between causality, counterfactuals, and responsibility attributions.

Type: Article
Title: Causal Responsibility and Counterfactuals.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12054
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12054
Additional information: © 2014 The Authors. Cognitive Science published by Cognitive Science Society, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Attribution, Causality, Counterfactuals, Criticality, Pivotality, Responsibility, Shared responsibility
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1405486
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