Technology led to more abstract causal reasoning

Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-23 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Many animal species use tools, but human technical engagement is more complex. We argue that there is coevolution between technical engagement and advanced forms of causal cognition in the human lineage. As an analytic tool, we present a classification of different forms of causal thinking. Human causal thinking has become detached from space and time, so that instead of just reacting to perceptual input, our minds can simulate actions and forces and their causal consequences. Our main thesis is that, unlike the situation for other primate species, an increasing emphasis on technical engagement made some hominins capable of reasoning about the forces involved in causal processes. This thesis is supported in three ways: We compare the casual thinking about forces of hominins with that of other primates. We analyze the causal thinking required for Stone Age hunting technologies such as throwing spears, bow hunting and the use of poisoned arrows, arguing that they may serve as examples of the expansion of casual cognition about forces. We present neurophysiological results that indicate the facilitation of advanced causal thinking.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,261

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Abstract versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
Causal reasoning and the diagnostic process.Dominick A. Rizzi - 1994 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 15 (3):315-333.
The normative force of reasoning.Ralph Wedgwood - 2006 - Noûs 40 (4):660–686.
Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):817–844.
Causal Reasoning in Physics.Mathias Frisch - 2014 - Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Causal reasoning.Christoph Hoerl - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (2):167-179.
Reasoning and Knowledge.Arthur Frank Walker - 1981 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
Causation and Intelligibility.David H. Sanford - 1994 - Philosophy 69 (267):55 - 67.
A Process Model of Causal Reasoning.Zachary J. Davis & Bob Rehder - 2020 - Cognitive Science 44 (5):e12839.


Added to PP

43 (#371,989)

6 months
18 (#144,337)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Peter Gärdenfors
Lund University

References found in this work

Phenomenology of perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1945 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.

View all 27 references / Add more references