Programs as Causal Models: Speculations on Mental Programs and Mental Representation
Article first published online: 15 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2013 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Special Issue: 2011 Rumelhart Prize Special Issue Honoring Judea Pearl Edited by Steven A. Sloman and Judea Pearl
Volume 37, Issue 6, pages 1171–1191, August 2013
How to Cite
Chater, N. and Oaksford, M. (2013), Programs as Causal Models: Speculations on Mental Programs and Mental Representation. Cognitive Science, 37: 1171–1191. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12062
- Issue published online: 8 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 15 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 6 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 22 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Received: 6 JUN 2012
- ERC. Grant Number: 295917
Judea Pearl has argued that counterfactuals and causality are central to intelligence, whether natural or artificial, and has helped create a rich mathematical and computational framework for formally analyzing causality. Here, we draw out connections between these notions and various current issues in cognitive science, including the nature of mental “programs” and mental representation. We argue that programs (consisting of algorithms and data structures) have a causal (counterfactual-supporting) structure; these counterfactuals can reveal the nature of mental representations. Programs can also provide a causal model of the external world. Such models are, we suggest, ubiquitous in perception, cognition, and language processing.