James WoodwardFeb 11, 2022
Causation with a Human Face
Normative Theory and Descriptive Psychology
Oxford University Press 2021
How do we reason about causal relationships, how do we determine what the causal relatiomships in nature are, and how are these two things – causal cognition and causation – connected? In Causation With a Human Face: Normative Theory and Descriptive Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2021), James Woodward synthesizes the normative and descriptive aspects of reasoning about causation in a way that combines a minimal realism about causal relations with the ways in which creatures like us think about and investigate these relations. While the descriptive (how we do reason) and the normative (how we ought to reason) are distinct, Woodward – Distinguished Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh – argues that normativity is built into our theories of causation, and armchair philosophical analysis, experimental philosophy, and cognitive psychology all provide different kinds of information about our causal reasoning and the worldly infrastructure that enables causal interventions based on that reasoning to be successful.
Carrie Figdor is professor of philosophy at the University of Iowa.