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The Causal Frame Problem: An Algorithmic Perspective

by   Ardavan Salehi Nobandegani, et al.
McGill University

The Frame Problem (FP) is a puzzle in philosophy of mind and epistemology, articulated by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as follows: "How do we account for our apparent ability to make decisions on the basis only of what is relevant to an ongoing situation without having explicitly to consider all that is not relevant?" In this work, we focus on the causal variant of the FP, the Causal Frame Problem (CFP). Assuming that a reasoner's mental causal model can be (implicitly) represented by a causal Bayes net, we first introduce a notion called Potential Level (PL). PL, in essence, encodes the relative position of a node with respect to its neighbors in a causal Bayes net. Drawing on the psychological literature on causal judgment, we substantiate the claim that PL may bear on how time is encoded in the mind. Using PL, we propose an inference framework, called the PL-based Inference Framework (PLIF), which permits a boundedly-rational approach to the CFP to be formally articulated at Marr's algorithmic level of analysis. We show that our proposed framework, PLIF, is consistent with a wide range of findings in causal judgment literature, and that PL and PLIF make a number of predictions, some of which are already supported by existing findings.


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