AI and Society:1-9 (forthcoming)

Melvin Chen
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Causal reasoning is an aspect of learning, reasoning, and decision-making that involves the cognitive ability to discover relationships between causal relata, learn and understand these causal relationships, and make use of this causal knowledge in prediction, explanation, decision-making, and reasoning in terms of counterfactuals. Can we fully automate causal reasoning? One might feel inclined, on the basis of certain groundbreaking advances in causal epistemology, to reply in the affirmative. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that one still has good skeptical grounds for resisting any conclusions in favour of the automation of causal reasoning. If by causal reasoning is meant the entirety of the process through which we discover causal relationships and make use of this knowledge in prediction, explanation, decision-making, and reasoning in terms of counterfactuals, then one relies besides on tacit knowledge, as might be constituted by or derived from the epistemic faculty virtues and abilities of the causal reasoner, the value systems and character traits of the causal reasoner, the implicit knowledge base available to the causal reasoner, and the habits that sustain our causal reasoning practices. While certain aspects of causal reasoning may be axiomatized and formalized and algorithms may be implemented to approximate causal reasoning, one has to remain skeptical about whether causal reasoning may be fully automated. This demonstration will involve an engagement with Meno’s Paradox.
Keywords Causal epistemology  Causal reasoning  Automation question  Meno's paradox
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DOI 10.1007/s00146-020-01037-4
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