So we are going to have to look out for our notions of causality as sources of 
confusion in the future because my notion of cause is:


An C is a cause of an effect, E, if, and only if C and E are classes of events, 

Class C events occur before and contiguously (for Immediate causes) to Class E 
events,      and

The occurrence of Class C events is statistically associated with an increase 
in the relative frequency of the occurrence of Class E events. 


Some consequences of this formulation are: 


1.       Simultaneous events (such as amygdala excitation and anger) canNOT be 
causes of one another. 

2.       The notion of cause and effect as we deploy it in ordinary language is 
a category error.  No single event can ever said to be either a cause or an 
effect of another single event.  

3.       The very notion of causality as applied to ANY historical science – 
history, evolution, history of the universe, etc., is placed in question.   I 
don’t know where that argument comes out.  I would like to be able to say 
things like , “The physical and behavioral dimorphisms observed in the human 
species are to some degree the result of differential selection upon the two 
sexes,” but I am not sure how I can. 









Nicholas S. Thompson

Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Biology

Clark University



-----Original Message-----
From: Friam [] On Behalf Of u?l? ?
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:09 PM
To: FriAM <>
Subject: Re: [FRIAM] the pseudoscience of evolutionary psychology?


OK.  It's good to have you respond directly to the physiology stuff.  Thanks.


Yes, I tried to respond to your causal model question.  My response is 
basically that any causal analysis should target the parts on the "critical 
path" ... the bottlenecks ... the "rate limiters" ... whatever your language.  
In your example below, if happiness can be caused not only by the pill, but by 
thousands of other things, yet the physiological process is common to it all, 
then *that's* the important part, not whatever of the thousands of stimuli that 
might have stimulated it.


And, yes, I admit that causality is often thought of in terms of time.  But 
having struggled with parallelism and redundancy in my own thinking, time isn't 
what determines cause.  The determinant is the limited resource ... the 
bottleneck.  In biomedicine, it's the target of intervention.  Even if you 
think that's a perversion of the word "cause", you should still be able to grok 
my point.



On 02/22/2018 04:58 PM, Nick Thompson wrote:

> Well, that was the point of my bee comment.  We start in the middle somewhere 
> and work out from there.  There is no absolute boundary of the organism.  But 
> as boundaries go, it's a pretty good one, and so we start there.  Once 
> started, we don't switch without a good reason.  


> Did you ever answer my question about how you understand "causality"?   So, 
> let's say I give you a pill and you get happy.  At the behavioral level, I 
> would say that the pill caused the happiness.  At the physiological level, I 
> would say that the chemical in the pill slowed the uptake of serotonin.  Then 
> I might say that the slowing of the uptake of serotonin mediated your 
> improvement of mood.  I am not sure I would say it caused it because CAUSES 
> by my definition have to occur BEFORE the events they cause and the up-take 
> slowing and the mood-improving are going on simultaneously. 



☣ uǝlƃ



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