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MSc Seminar Logical Theory of Causality


Registration for the course is only possible via the central registration for master courses on Moodle. 


Human reasoning heavily relies on distinguishing causes from their effects. We typically understand our environment by explaining observations, i.e., effects, with the help of self-evident, a priori knowledge, i.e., causes. Assume, for instance, a lightning strike hits a house and the house burns down. In this case, we consider the lightning as self-evident, a priori knowledge, which explains the fire in the house. This leads us to the judgment: "The lightning caused the fire in the house."

Unfortunately, nowadays, artificial intelligence is mostly built on the concept of correlation. In our example, this means we can express that observing a fire increases the probability of a lightning strike hitting our house, and vice versa. However, a correlation-based artificial intelligence cannot recognize the lightning as the fire's cause. While a correlation-based artificial intelligence only supports queries about the truth or probabilities of statements, causal explanations permit two additional query types: queries for the effects of external interventions and counterfactual queries, i.e., queries of the form "What would have happened had we intervened before observing some evidence?" In our scenario, we can, for instance, intervene and install a conductor to prevent fires caused, i.e., explained by lightning strikes. Furthermore, if we observe a lightning strike hitting our house followed by a fire breaking out, we may conclude from a causal explanation that the fire would not have occurred had we installed a lightning rod beforehand.

In our seminar, we study Bochman's logical formalism to handle causal explanations. Roughly, Bochman reduces causal reasoning to so-called production inference relations, i.e., reasoning between two layers of propositional logic, which is used to describe the state of the a priori and a posteriori knowledge, respectively. Furthermore, we discuss how Bochman's theory aligns with Aristotelian logic, with Pearl's theory of causality, and with the paradigm of logic programming.

Teaching staff

Kilian Rückschloß MSc

Felix Weitkämper DPhil (Oxon)


Fridays 10 - 12 c.t., Oettingenstr. 67 / 067

First meeting: Friday, 20th October 2023

Attendance at the first meeting is essential for taking part in the seminar!


Further details regarding the talks, seminar papers and a detailed schedule will be provided at the first meeting, as the arrangements will depend on the number of participants at the seminar.