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Thomas Icard [5]Thomas F. Icard [1]
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Thomas Icard
Stanford University
  1. Normality and Actual Causal Strength.Thomas Icard, Jonathan Kominsky & Joshua Knobe - 2017 - Cognition 161:80-93.
    Existing research suggests that people's judgments of actual causation can be influenced by the degree to which they regard certain events as normal. We develop an explanation for this phenomenon that draws on standard tools from the literature on graphical causal models and, in particular, on the idea of probabilistic sampling. Using these tools, we propose a new measure of actual causal strength. This measure accurately captures three effects of normality on causal judgment that have been observed in existing studies. (...)
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  2. Why Be Random?Thomas Icard - 2021 - Mind 130 (517):fzz065.
    When does it make sense to act randomly? A persuasive argument from Bayesian decision theory legitimizes randomization essentially only in tie-breaking situations. Rational behaviour in humans, non-human animals, and artificial agents, however, often seems indeterminate, even random. Moreover, rationales for randomized acts have been offered in a number of disciplines, including game theory, experimental design, and machine learning. A common way of accommodating some of these observations is by appeal to a decision-maker’s bounded computational resources. Making this suggestion both precise (...)
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  3. Subjective Probability as Sampling Propensity.Thomas Icard - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (4):863-903.
    Subjective probability plays an increasingly important role in many fields concerned with human cognition and behavior. Yet there have been significant criticisms of the idea that probabilities could actually be represented in the mind. This paper presents and elaborates a view of subjective probability as a kind of sampling propensity associated with internally represented generative models. The resulting view answers to some of the most well known criticisms of subjective probability, and is also supported by empirical work in neuroscience and (...)
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  4. An Interaction Effect of Norm Violations on Causal Judgment.Maureen Gill, Jonathan F. Kominsky, Thomas F. Icard & Joshua Knobe - 2022 - Cognition 228:105183.
    Existing research has shown that norm violations influence causal judgments, and a number of different models have been developed to explain these effects. One such model, the necessity/sufficiency model, predicts an interac- tion pattern in people’s judgments. Specifically, it predicts that when people are judging the degree to which a particular factor is a cause, there should be an interaction between (a) the degree to which that factor violates a norm and (b) the degree to which another factor in the (...)
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  5. Calibrating Generative Models: The Probabilistic Chomsky-Schützenberger Hierarchy.Thomas Icard - 2020 - Journal of Mathematical Psychology 95.
    A probabilistic Chomsky–Schützenberger hierarchy of grammars is introduced and studied, with the aim of understanding the expressive power of generative models. We offer characterizations of the distributions definable at each level of the hierarchy, including probabilistic regular, context-free, (linear) indexed, context-sensitive, and unrestricted grammars, each corresponding to familiar probabilistic machine classes. Special attention is given to distributions on (unary notations for) positive integers. Unlike in the classical case where the "semi-linear" languages all collapse into the regular languages, using analytic tools (...)
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  6. On the Instrumental Value of Hypothetical and Counterfactual Thought.Thomas Icard, Fiery Cushman & Joshua Knobe - 2018 - Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    People often engage in “offline simulation”, considering what would happen if they performed certain actions in the future, or had performed different actions in the past. Prior research shows that these simulations are biased towards actions a person considers to be good—i.e., likely to pay off. We ask whether, and why, this bias might be adaptive. Through computational experiments we compare five agents who differ only in the way they engage in offline simulation, across a variety of different environment types. (...)
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