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Michael Thielscher

Steady Versus Stabilizing State Constraints.

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Overview of interactions

N:o Question Answer(s) Continued discussion
1 7.1  Erik Sandewall
2 7.1  Erik Sandewall
7.1  Michael Thielscher
3 7.1  Peter Grünwald

Q1. Erik Sandewall:

You make a distinction between steady and stabilizing constraints, and characterize both using causal relationships. However, is it really appropriate to use the term "causation" for the results of the steady constraints?

(Answer not recorded).

Q2. Erik Sandewall:

With respect to the stabilizing constraints, the important thing about them seems to be that they involve a time delay. If this is so, would it not be more natural to use an explicit timeline and to position the successive changes along it, using short time delays?

A2. Michael Thielscher:

The question whether causes must truly precede effects rather than effects just not having to precede causes, is among the many disputed general problems of causality. The classical example in philosophical literature is this: Can we say that the fact that Socrates died caused Xanthippe to become a widow? My answer to that question is positive, and since I'm not alone I feel legitimated to call "causal" the relationship between these two events. (Clearly, the underlying state constraint in this example is a steady one.)

With respect to the introduction of explicit time to model stabilizing indirect effects: In so doing one lowers the level of abstraction--which is unnecessary and hence contradicts the commonsense principle of choosing the highest level of abstraction which is just sufficiently low to talk and reason about the domain in question. Everyone who ever in one of his or her papers has considered an example involving a stabilizing state constraint but has not used delayed effects to model this example, is a (maybe unintentional) witness for the case.

Q3. Peter Grünwald:

How would you handle the suitcase example in your approach?

(Answer not recorded).

This on-line debate page is part of a discussion at recent workshop; similar pages are set up for each of the workshop articles. The discussion is organized by the area Reasoning about Actions and Change within the Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence (ETAI).

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