Events and Causal Mappings Modeled in Conceptual Spaces

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The aim of the article is to present a model of causal relations that is based on what is known about human causal reasoning and that forms guidelines for implementations in robots. I argue for two theses concerning human cognition. The first is that human causal cognition, in contrast to that of other animals, is based on the understanding of the forces that are involved. The second thesis is that humans think about causality in terms of events. I present a two-vector model of events, developed by Gärdenfors and Warglien, which states that an event is represented in terms of two main components – the force of an action that drives the event, and the result of its application. Apart from the causal mapping, the event model contains representations of a patient, an agent, and possibly some other roles. Agents and patients are objects (animate or inanimate) that have different properties. Following my theory of conceptual spaces, they can be described as vectors of property values. At least two spaces are needed to describe an event, an action space and a result space. The result of an event is modeled as a vector representing the change of properties of the patient before and after the event. In robotics the focus has been on describing results. The proposed model also includes the causal part of events, typically described as an action. A central part of an event category is the mapping from actions to results. This mapping contains the central information about causal relations. In applications of the two-vector model, the central problem is how the event mapping can be learned in a way that is amenable to implementations in robots. Three processes are central for event cognition: causal thinking, control of action and learning by generalization. Although it is not yet clear which is the best way to model how the mappings can be learned, they should be constrained by three corresponding mathematical properties: monotonicity (related to qualitative causal thinking); continuity (plays a key role in activities of action control); and convexity (facilitates generalization and the categorization of events). I argue that Bayesian models are not suitable for these purposes, but some more geometrically oriented approach to event mappings should be used.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • University of Johannesburg

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Psykologi (exklusive tillämpad psykologi)


TidskriftFrontiers in Psychology
StatusPublished - 2020 apr 7
Peer review utfördJa