Motivated Action Theory: A Formal Theory of Causal Reasoning

Unknown author (1991-12-01)

When we reason about change over time, causation provides an implicit preference: we prefer sequences of situations in which one situation leads causally to the next, rather than sequences in which one situation follows another at random and without causal connections. In this paper, we explore the problem of temporal reasoning --- reasoning about change over time --- and the crucial role that causation plays in our intuitions. We examine previous approaches to temporal reasoning, and their shortcomings, in light of this analysis. We propose a new system for causal reasoning, motivated action theory, which builds upon causation as a crucial preference creterion. Motivated action theory solves the traditional problems of both forward and backward reasoning, and additionally provides a basis for a new theory of explanation.