[The copyright line for this article was changed on 22 July 2014 after original online publication.]
Causal Responsibility and Counterfactuals
Article first published online: 15 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Cognitive Science published by Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Special Issue: 2011 Rumelhart Prize Special Issue Honoring Judea Pearl Edited by Steven A. Sloman and Judea Pearl
Volume 37, Issue 6, pages 1036–1073, August 2013
How to Cite
Lagnado, D. A., Gerstenberg, T. and Zultan, R. (2013), Causal Responsibility and Counterfactuals. Cognitive Science, 37: 1036–1073. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12054
- Issue published online: 8 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 15 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 2 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Received: 16 MAR 2012
- ESRC. Grant Number: RES-062-33-0004
- AXA research fund
- Shared responsibility;
How do people attribute responsibility in situations where the contributions of multiple agents combine to produce a joint outcome? The prevalence of over-determination in such cases makes this a difficult problem for counterfactual theories of causal responsibility. In this article, we explore a general framework for assigning responsibility in multiple agent contexts. We draw on the structural model account of actual causation (e.g., Halpern & Pearl, 2005) and its extension to responsibility judgments (Chockler & Halpern, 2004). We review the main theoretical and empirical issues that arise from this literature and propose a novel model of intuitive judgments of responsibility. This model is a function of both pivotality (whether an agent made a difference to the outcome) and criticality (how important the agent is perceived to be for the outcome, before any actions are taken). The model explains empirical results from previous studies and is supported by a new experiment that manipulates both pivotality and criticality. We also discuss possible extensions of this model to deal with a broader range of causal situations. Overall, our approach emphasizes the close interrelations between causality, counterfactuals, and responsibility attributions.