What is Cognitive Science

Two Theories of Counterfactual Conditionals

Dr. Lance Rips

Thursday, November 06, 2008, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Northwestern University, Department of Psychology

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Computer scientists and philosophers have proposed Bayes nets as formal representations of causal systems, and many psychologists have claimed them as plausible mental representations. One purported advantage of Bayes nets is that they provide a theory of counterfactual conditionals, such as If Calvin had been at the party, Miriam would have left early. This talk compares two proposed Bayes-net theories as models of people's understanding of counterfactuals. The results from several experiments show that neither theory does a perfect job of predicting people's judgments, but one theory clearly outperforms the other. We consider whether it's best to modify Bayes nets or to abandon them within this domain.

Dr. Lance Rips


"What is Cognitive Science?"

This lunchtime talks series is designed to introduce the University community to issues in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science is one the the few fields where modern developments in computer science and artificial intelligence promise to shed light on classical problems in psychology and the philosophy of the mind. Ancient questions of how we see the world, understand language, and reason, and questions such as 'how a material system can know about the outside world', are being explored with the powerful new conceptual prosthetics of computer modeling.

The talks in this lunchtime lecture series are every Thursday during the Fall semester from ** 12:00-1:00 ** in the Psychology Building, Room 101 on  Busch Campus.

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