Causation, Responsibility, and Typicality
journal contributionposted on 2022-09-16, 18:27 authored by Justin SytsmaJustin Sytsma
There is ample evidence that violations of injunctive norms impact ordinary causal attributions. This has struck some as deeply surprising, taking the ordinary concept of causation to be purely descriptive. Our explanation of the findings—the responsibility view—rejects this: we contend that the concept is in fact partly normative, being akin to concepts like responsibility and accountability. Based on this account, we predicted a very different pattern of results for causal attributions when an agent violates a statistical norm. And this pattern has been borne out by the data (Sytsma et al. 2012; Livengood et al. 2017; Sytsma n.d.-a). These predictions were based on the responsibility attributions that we would make. In this paper, I extend these previous findings, testing responsibility attributions. The results confirm the basis of our predictions, showing the same pattern of effects previously found for causal attributions for both injunctive norms and statistical norms. In fact, the results for responsibility attributions are not statistically significantly different from those previously found for causal attributions. I argue that this close correspondence lends further credence to the responsibility view over competing explanations of the impact of norms on causal attributions.