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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Wednesday, 9 March 2005

Topic: Ontology&possible worlds

Who's Afraid of Impossible Worlds?

By Edwin D. Mares

A theory of ersatz impossible worlds is developed to deal with the problem of counterpossible conditionals. Using only tools standardly in the toolbox of possible worlds theorists, it is shown that we can construct a model for counterpossibles. This model is a natural extension of Lewis's semantics for counterfactuals, but instead of using classical logic as its base, it uses the logic LP.

Source: Notre Dame J. Formal Logic ?38 (1997), no. 4, 516?526

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Content and context effects in childrens and adults' conditional reasoning

By Pierre Barrouillet & Jean-Francois Lecas

We have recently shown that children [i.e. adolescents] interpret conditional sentences with binary terms (e.g., male/female) in both the antecedent and the consequent as biconditionals (Barrouillet & Lecas, 1998). We hypothesized that the same effect can be obtained with conditionals that do not contain binary terms provided that they are embedded in a context that restricts to only two the possible values on both the antecedent and the consequent. In the present experiment, we asked 12-year- old children, 15-year-old children, and adults to draw conclusions from conditional syllogisms that involved three types of conditional sentence:
(1) conditionals with binary terms (BB),

(2) conditionals with non-binary terms (NN), and

(3) conditionals with non-binary terms embedded in a restrictive context (NNR).

As we predicted, BB conditionals elicited more biconditional response patterns than did NN conditionals in all age groups. On the other hand, manipulating the context had the same effect in children but not in adults. Content and context constraints on conditional reasoning along with developmental issues are discussed within the framework of the mental models theory.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 10:21 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

A Computational Model of Counterfactual Thinking: The Temporal Order Effect

By Clare R. Walsh & Ruth M.J. Byrne

People generate counterfactual alternatives to reality when they think about how things might have happened differently, if only. There are considerable regularities in the sorts of past events that people mentally undo, for example, they tend to mentally undo the most recent event in an independent sequence. Consider a game in which two contestants will win #1000 if they both pick cards from the same color suite. The first player picks black and the second red and they lose. Most people spontaneously undo the outcome by thinking, if only the second player had picked black. We describe a computational model that simulates our theory of the mental representations and cognitive processes underlying this temporal order effect. The computer model is corroborated by tests of the novel predictions of our theory: it should be possible to reverse the temporal order effect by manipulating the way in which the winning conditions are described.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 10:05 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 01:06 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Counterfactuals and Policy Analysis in Structural Models

By Alexander Balke & Judea Pearl

Evaluation of counterfactual queries (e.g. If A were true, would C have been true?) is important to fault diagnosis, planning, determination of liability, and policy analysis. We present a method for evaluating counterfactuals when the underlying causal model is represented by structural models { a nonlinear generalization of the simultaneous equations models commonly used in econometrics and social sciences. This new method provides a coherent means for evaluating policies involving the control of variables which, prior to enacting the policy were inuenced by other variables in the system.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 01:08 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Counterfactuals and Updates as Inverse Modalities

By Mark Ryan and Pierre-Yves Schobbens

We point out a simple but hitherto ignored link between the theory of updates, the theory of counterfactuals, and classical modal logic: update is a classical existential modality, counterfactual is a classical universal modality, and the accessibility relations corresponding to these modalities are inverses. The Ramsey Rule (often thought esoteric) is simply an axiomatisation of this inverse relationship.

We use this fact to translate between rules for updates and rules for counterfactuals. Thus, Katsuno and Mendelzon?s postulates U1--U8 are translated into counterfactual rules C1--C8 (Table VII), and many of the familiar counterfactual rules are translated into rules for updates (Table VIII). Our conclusions are summarised in Table V.

From known properties of inverse modalities we deduce that not all rules for updates may be translated into rules for counterfactuals, and vice versa. We present a syntactic condition which is sufficient to guarantee that a translation from update to counterfactual (or vice versa) is possible.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:09 GMT
Monday, 7 March 2005


Possible worlds semantics for credulous and contraction inference

By Alexander Bochman

A possible worlds semantics is suggested for a broad class of nonmonotonic inference relations, including not only traditional skeptical ones, but also credulous and contraction inference. The semantics could be used to provide a canonical framework for studying and comparing different kinds of nonmonotonic inference.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 11:42 GMT
Updated: Monday, 7 March 2005 11:44 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

When Possibility Informs Reality: Counterfactual Thinking as a Cue to Causality

By Barbara A. Spellman & David R. Mandel

People often engage in counterfactual thinking, that is, imagining alternatives to the real world and mentally playing out the consequences. Yet the counterfactuals people tend to imagine are a small subset of those that could possibly be imagined. There is some debate as to the relation between counterfactual thinking and causal beliefs. Some researchers argue that counterfactual thinking is the key to causal judgments; current research suggests, however, that the relation is rather complex. When people think about counterfactuals, they focus on ways to prevent bad or uncommon outcomes; when people think about causes, they focus on things that covary with outcomes. Counterfactual thinking may affect causality judgments by changing beliefs about the probabilities of possible alternatives to what actually happened, thereby changing beliefs as to whether a cause and effect actually covary. The way in which counterfactual thinking affects causal attributions may have practical consequences for mental health and the legal system.

Current Directions in Psychological Science Volume 8 Issue 4 Page 120 - August 1999

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:11 GMT

Now Playing: REPOSTED
Topic: Counterfactuals

Counterfactual Thinking as a Mechanism in Narrative Persuasion

by Nurit Tal-Or, David S. Boninger, Amir Poran and Faith Gleicher

Two experiments examined the impact of counterfactual thinking on persuasion. Participants in both experiments were exposed to short video clips in which an actor described a car accident that resulted in serious injury. In the narrative description, the salience of a counterfactual was manipulated by either explicitly including the counterfactual in the narrative or by not including it. An examination of attitudes related to traffic safety supported the hypothesis that the inclusion of a counterfactual in narrative enhances the persuasive impact of the narrative. The first study (N= 50) demonstrated this effect in the short-term, and the second study ( N= 61) replicated the short-term effects while also demonstrating the temporal persistence of the initial changes in attitudes. Both studies highlighted potential limiting conditions of these effects. The first study showed that the impact of counterfactuals on persuasion is most potent when the self, rather than another person, is the focus of blame in the counterfactual. The second study revealed that attitude changes persist over time when the counterfactuals are self-generated, but not when they are spoon-fed to the participant. Results are discussed in the context of understanding the characteristics of counterfactual thoughts that enable them to enhance the persuasive impact of narrative.

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Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:10 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Reason Explanations and Counterfactuals

By Robert M. Gordon

In evaluating conditionals concerning what a person would have done in counterfactual circumstances, we suppose the counterfactual antecedent to be true, just as in what I loosely term the standard "Ramsey" procedure; but then we follow a different path? a simulative path? in evaluating the consequent. The simulative path imposes an implicit restriction on possible worlds, a procedural guarantee that the individual simulated is aware of or knows about the counterfactual condition. This difference makes clear the way in which reason explanations are implicitly cognitive and psychological.
This implicit cognitivity has important consequences for conceptual development. If young children, even children of 2 or 3 years, follow the simulative path in interpreting counterfactuals about human action under counterfactual conditions, then they already give implicitly cognitive explanations. Their subsequent developmental task is chiefly to make explicit what they already ascribe implicitly. This will be is a process of subtraction, of shaving away some of the commitments a reason explanation makes.(...)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:12 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Modals and a Compositional Account of Counterfactuals

By Nicholas Asher & Eric McCready

There are lots of modals that we might include in this account must, ought phi, should phi, all suggest universal quantifications over deontic possibilities while may, as Kamp (1973) suggested, introduces deontic possibilities. It's a delicate matter to ground the deontic alternatives in the epistemic possibilities (Asher 1987). But it appears that the following approach, on which we extended a dynamic semantics with a dynamic account of modals, can accommodate these modals as well. The semantics we have developed [here] handles both the modal subordination facts and Veltman-style update phenomena and it provides a compositional account of counterfactuals that has at least some pleasing features, including a connection to normality conditionals and the non-monotonic notion of inference that has come to be associated with them.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:13 GMT
Sunday, 6 March 2005


Using Counterfactuals in Knowledge-Based Programming

By Joseph Y. Halpern & Yoram Moses

Knowledge-based programs, first introduced by Halpern and Fagin [and further developed by Fagin, Halpern, Moses, and Vardi, are intended to provide a high-level framework for the design and specification of protocols. The idea is that, in knowledge-based programs, there are explicit tests for knowledge. Thus, a knowledge-based program might have the form
if K(x = 0) then y := y + 1 else skip,

where K(x = 0) should be read as "you know x = 0" and skip is the action of doing nothing. We can informally view this knowledge-based program as saying "if you know that x = 0, then set y to y + 1 (otherwise do nothing)".
Knowledge-based programs are an attempt to capture the intuition that what an agent does depends on what it knows. They have been used successfully (...) both to help in the design of new protocols and to clarify the understanding of existing protocols. However, as we show here, there are cases when, used naively, knowledge-based programs exhibit some quite counterintuitive behavior. We then show how this can be overcome by the use of counterfactuals. In this introduction, we discuss these issues informally, leaving the formal details to later sections of the paper.

Source: CLE

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:06 GMT

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Counterfactual conditionals and false belief: a developmental dissociation

By Josef Perner, Manuel Sprung & Bettina Steinkogler

The objective of this study was to explore factors that affect the difficulty of counterfactual reasoning in 3-5-year-old children and to shed light on the reason why counterfactual reasoning relates to understanding false belief [Cognitive Development, 13 (1998) 73-90]. Using travel scenarios, the difference between simple scenarios, in which each departure point led to exactly one destination, and complex scenarios, in which each of the departure points was cross-connected with all destination points, proved very important. In simple scenarios even 3 and 1/2 -year olds gave 75% correct answers to counterfactual questions, a level achieved on complex scenarios a year, and on false belief questions, irrespective of scenario, 1 and 1/2 years later. Since simple scenarios require the same kind of reasoning as complex scenarios, this calls into question the suggestion by Peterson and Riggs [Mind & Language 14 (1999) 80-112] that modified derivation is the common denominator for answering counterfactual questions and questions about false belief.

Keywords: Counterfactual conditionals; False belief; Conditional reasoning

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:25 GMT


Causation and Counterfactuals

A recommended book

Edited by John Collins, Ned Hall and L. A. Paul, Published by Bradford Books

One philosophical approach to causation sees counterfactual dependence as the key to the explanation of causal facts: for example, events c (the cause) and e (the effect) both occur, but had c not occurred, e would not have occurred either. The counterfactual analysis of causation became a focus of philosophical debate after the 1973 publication of the late David Lewis's groundbreaking paper, "Causation," which argues against the previously accepted "regularity" analysis and in favor of what he called the "promising alternative" of the counterfactual analysis. Thirty years after Lewis's paper, this book brings together some of the most important recent work connecting--or, in some cases, disputing the connection between--counterfactuals and causation, including the complete version of Lewis's Whitehead lectures, "Causation as Influence," a major reworking of his original paper. Also included is a more recent essay by Lewis, "Void and Object," on causation by omission. Several of the essays first appeared in a special issue of the Journal of Philosophy, but most, including the unabridged version of "Causation as Influence," are published for the first time or in updated forms.

Other topics considered include the "trumping" of one event over another in determining causation; de facto dependence; challenges to the transitivity of causation; the possibility that entities other than events are the fundamental causal relata; the distinction between dependence and production in accounts of causation; the distinction between causation and causal explanation; the context-dependence of causation; probabilistic analyses of causation; and a singularist theory of causation.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:04 GMT

Topic: Interconnections


By Jorg Guido Hulsmann

Ludwig von Mises emphasized that economics is the foremost political science of our age. As such, the clarification of the facts on which this science is built, and of the way political conclusions are based on them, is of the greatest practical importance.
The same spirit of a practical-minded interest for the epistemology and methodology of economic science motivates the present paper. I will argue that the nature of human choice jeopardises the mainstream approach to analysing human action, and then show that the difficulties of analysing choice can be overcome once it is recognised that a whole class of economic laws are counterfactual laws. They concern the relationship between what human beings actually do (their behaviour, their thoughts) and what they could have done instead. These laws can be applied in counterfactual analyses of the real world, which consist in comparing observed human behaviour and its unrealised choice alternatives in various (e.g., quantitative) terms.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:05 GMT


Intertranslating Counterfactuals and Updates

By Mark Ryan & Pierre-Yves Schobbens

We recall that the Ramsey Rule can be seen as axiomatising the relationship of inverse accessibility relations which exists between the notions of update and counterfactual conditional. We use this fact to translate between postulates for updates and postulates for counterfactuals. Thus, Katsuno/Mendelzon?s postulates U1{U8 are translated into counterfactual postulates C1{C8 (theorem 6), and many of the familar counter-factual postulates are translated into postulates for updates (theorem 7). Our conclusions are summarised in table 5.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT

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