Types of Causal Arguments

In the post for your Causal Argument task I will be happy to provide (if you request for them) specific recommendations you might find helpful in crafting Causal Arguments for your research topics. While you put your arguments together, decide what sort of framework suits your argument best:

Single Cause with a Single Effect (X causes Y)
“Facebook Can Cost Us Our Jobs”
The premise is that something supposedly personal, about which our employers should have nothing to say, is nevertheless available to our employers, and to prospective employers, if we make it so. What needs to be proved is that information about our non-work lives, or information we post to Facebook about our work lives, can keep us from getting a job, from advancing in a job, or from keeping a job.

  • You may say that sounds illegal or unethical, but your objection is irrelevant to the causal argument.
  • You could examine how different professions handle social media differently (for example kindergarten teachers might be fired for indiscretions that wouldn’t cost an insurance agent her job), because your topic is still what costs the teacher and the agent their jobs.
  • You could argue that free speech should be protected if it’s true, and nobody should be fired for saying his boss cheats on his wife, but your objection is irrelevant unless there really are certain types of speech for which we can’t be fired and types for which we can (X causes Z, but Y does not cause Z).
  • You could certainly make a good argument that employers have different policies regarding social media activities of their employees (X causes Y at Company 1, while X causes Z at Company 2).

Single Cause with Several Effects (X causes Y and Z)
“We Are the Casualties of the War on Drugs”
The premise is that the War on Drugs has been counterproductive, subjecting the nation to increased drug use and drug-related death. What needs to be proved is that government interference in drug production and distribution creates crime, interrupts quality control, causes disease, and kills users, traffickers, and innocent bystanders of the illicit drug trade.

  • You could argue that the prohibition of certain desirable substances leads inevitably to a frenzied underground and by definition criminal enterprise to meet the demand.
  • You could argue that criminals aren’t always scrupulous about the quality of the contraband they deliver and that their product often harms or kills.
  • You could point out the countless people languishing in jails for owning small amounts of something that used to be legal.
  • You might want to mention that drug use, even sanctioned use of safe prescription drugs, can be very detrimental in and of itself, but your comments would be completely irrelevant to the causal argument.
  • You might also want to say that drug dealers get what’s coming to them when they deal in illicit materials and it’s wrong to blame cops for killing them, but again, that’s irrelevant to the question of whether the War on Drugs results in death.

Several Causes for a Single Effect (Both X and Y cause Z)
“There’s No One Explanation for Gangs”
The premise is usually employed to refute the “common knowledge” that a single cause can be blamed for an effect. If you’ve chosen a topic about which everybody “knows” the cause and effect, your causal essay will dispute the notion that there is in fact a single cause.

  • You could produce evidence that gangs are more prevalent in public housing projects than in suburban neighborhoods, but with special care. You still won’t have identified the cause, only the location of the cause.
  • You could produce evidence that a large majority of the kids in gangs come from families without a present, positive, male role model, but with great care in how you describe the situation, to avoid using misleading shortcuts like “kids with no dads.”
  • You could describe gangs as often engaged in petty criminal activity or as pointlessly obsessed with territorial disputes, but it’s completely irrelevant to your causal argument to describe what happens after a kid is in the gang when you intend to prove why he joined it in the first place.

A Causal Chain (X causes Y, which causes Z)
“Failure to Prosecute Rape Causes Rape”
The premise is that rape occurs because it’s tolerated and that every resulting rape reinforces the sense that it will be tolerated. Rapes of female students on college campuses are routinely reported to campus authorities, not local police, and are kept from local law enforcement to protect the reputation of the school at the expense of the rights of the victim. What needs to be proved is that the rapes are in fact kept secret, that the assailants escape justice, and that there is local awareness that sexual assaults are not prosecuted or punished.

  • You might want to investigate how it came to be that colleges got jurisdiction for sexual assaults on campus, but it’s probably irrelevant, unless you can demonstrate that they did so deliberately in order to keep assaults secret.
  • You might want to explain what you think are contributing causes, such as the loss of bonuses or jobs for administrators on whose watch the public learned of campus rapes.
  • You would need to argue that somehow, even though the outside world never hears of these rapes, students on campus learn that assault victims are not believed or supported and that assailants are not punished. This is essential to the chain.
  • You could make a suggestion that if victims of rape refused to be “handled” by honor boards and campus judiciaries and took their cases to the local prosecutors instead they could break the chain. Arguing how to break the chain is a confirmation of why the chain continues.

Causation Fallacy (X does not cause Y)
“Violent Games Are Not the Missing Link”
The premise of this causation fallacy argument is nobody has yet proved a causal link between a steady diet of violent video games and actual physical violence in the lives of the gamers.

  • You might be tempted to demonstrate that gamers are actually sweethearts who join the Boy Scouts and help old ladies across the street without knocking them down, but you don’t have to. You merely want to prove that they’re no more violent than players of other games.
  • In fact, you don’t need to prove anything positive of your own to produce a strong causation fallacy argument; you only need to discredit the logic, the methods, or the premises of your opponents who think they have proved causation.
  • For example, if an exhaustive study finds a strong link between kids who play violent video games and kids who kick their classmates on the playground, you argue this is mere correlation. It’s equally likely that the kids were violent first and attracted to the games as a result of their taste for aggression.
  • You could also question the methodology of the supposed proof. If a questionnaire measures hostility, the answer: “I am suspicious of overly friendly strangers” no more proves hostility than it indicates a healthy wariness of the unknown.

In-class Exercise

Consider what you know about your own Topic and Thesis.
As a Reply to this post, make 5 brief Causal Arguments derived from your own research, as I have done above.

  1. Single Cause with a Single Effect (X causes Y)
  2. Single Cause with Several Effects (X causes Y and Z)
  3. Several Causes for a Single Effect (Both X and Y cause Z)
  4. A Causal Chain (X causes Y, which causes Z)
  5. Causation Fallacy (X does not cause Y)

27 Responses to Types of Causal Arguments

  1. christianity19 says:

    Kids who don’t check their skin before wrestling matches or wrestling practices have a higher risk to getting skin disease.

    Like

  2. mrmba1 says:
    1. Drumming leads to exercise.
    2. Drumming causes you to exercise and gain coordination.
    3. Wanting to join a community, wanting to create music, and wanting to improve coordination could all lead to drumming.
    4. Drumming leads to playing with others which leads to joining a community which leads to increased social health.
    5. Wanting to exercise doesn’t inherently lead to drumming.

    Like

  3. carsonwentz1186 says:
    1. The amount of money paid to certain players makes it harder to pay the other players around them.
    2. If players take less money, it allows their teams to build better rosters and win more championships.
    3. The idea that Quarterbacks are the most important player on the team and should be paid a ridiculous amount of money has restricted their team’s ability to build the roster around them.
    4. Quarterbacks being paid the massive contracts that they currently are restricts the team’s ability to build the roster around them, which makes it increasingly more challenging to win championships.
    5. Players taking up massive amounts of a team’s salary cap does not give the team the best chance to be successful in the long run.

    Like

    • davidbdale says:
      1. Single Cause, Single Effect.
      2. Single Cause, Single Effect.
      3. Single Cause, Single Effect.
      4. Causal Chain
      5. Causation Fallacy.

      Your first three examples should be of different types. Instead, they’re three examples of the same type. Don’t sweat it. Just sayin’.

      Your 5th is nice, but its proof is not exactly needed. What MIGHT need to be disproved is the notion that NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY IT TAKES, LANDING THE BEST FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK IS THE BEST WAY TO WIN A SUPERBOWL.

      Like

    1. I didn’t get enough sleep last night so I don’t have as much energy as normal.
    2. I messed up my sleep schedule by staying up until 4:00am every night so I miss breakfast every morning, and it has become much harder to get up for school.
    3. I have procrastinated on some assignments and getting an oil change so I have had increased anxiety for the past couple days.
    4. I didn’t do my homework on time, I got reduced credit on completing the work, my grade went down, and I now feel bad about myself.
    5. The lack of a strong male figure in a household is not the direct cause of a child getting involved in criminal activity.

    Like

  4. icedcoffeeislife says:
    1. The pressure that collegiate athletes are under from their training and academic work cause higher chances of anxiety in the swimmers.
    2. Deciding which level of collegiate swimming you want to go to will lead to different levels of anxiety. If you chose to swim Division one, you will experience more anxiety from an athlete that might have chosen to swim division three instead of division one.
      3.A swimmer that has an exceptionally large workload including their training schedule and academics schedule causes a person anxiety in many different ways. From the person shutting down, losing motivation to do their work.
    3. With being a person that already has a higher risk of anxiety or depression, which is higher without the pressure for many academics, swimming on top of everything can make a person anxiety or depression very hard to stay motivated with everything.
    4. There are plenty of swimmers who manage their academic and training schedule, so it is not true that this amount of stress can cause a person to experican anxiety. Anxiety could be spiked on certain underlying issues that a person may have.

    Like

    • davidbdale says:
      1. The pressure that collegiate athletes are under from their training and academic work cause higher chances of anxiety in the swimmers.
        —This could be considered X plus Y causes Z. If X is training and Y is academic work.
      2. Deciding which level of collegiate swimming you want to go to will lead to different levels of anxiety. If you chose to swim Division one, you will experience more anxiety from an athlete that might have chosen to swim division three instead of division one.
        —I would call this a pair of Single Cause / Single Effect sets. D1 causes A1. D3 causes A3. A1 is bigger than A3.

      3. A swimmer that has an exceptionally large workload including their training schedule and academics schedule causes a person anxiety in many different ways. From the person shutting down, losing motivation to do their work.
        Yep. Workload (X) causes Shutdown (S) Motivation Loss (ML) etc.

      4. With being a person that already has a higher risk of anxiety or depression, which is higher without the pressure for many academics, swimming on top of everything can make a person anxiety or depression very hard to stay motivated with everything.
        —Several Causes / Several Effects.
        High-risk Personality (HRP) plus Academic Pressure (AP) plus Athletic Training (AT) plus Competitive Pressure (CP) CAUSES Anxiety (A) plus Depression (D) plus Motivation Loss (ML)

      5. There are plenty of swimmers who manage their academic and training schedule, so it is not true that this amount of stress can cause a person to experience anxiety. Anxiety could be spiked on certain underlying issues that a person may have.
        —Causation Fallacy. Academic Effort (AE) plus Athletic Training (AT) DOES NOT CAUSE Anxiety (A)
        —Underlying issues must also be present.

      Nice work.

      Like

  5. honeysucklelilac says:
    1. Fast fashion websites cause a negative impact on the environment.
    2. Fast fashion websites cause an overproduction of clothes and an increase of clothes in landfills.
    3. Fast fashion websites and the want to keep up with trends causes negative environmental impacts.
    4. The constantly changing fashion trends causes high online traffic on fast fashion websites which leads to more clothes being in landfills.
    5. Fast fashion websites do not cause new trends to emerge.

    Like

  6. christianity19 says:
    1. Wrestling causes you to have skin disease and could cause another kid to get the skin disease.
    2. Wrestling matches and Wrestling practices cause wrestlers to get skin disease.
    3. Not checking your skin and wrestling practice and wrestling matches causes skin disease.
    4. Skin diseases does not cause kids to wrestle

    Like

  7. person345 says:
    1. Not going to class causes you to fail that class
    2. Coronavirus shutdowns leads to downfall of the world economy and the decline of mental health
    3. There is no cause as to why the Coronavirus exists
    4. The spread of Coronavirus causes shutdowns, causes people to stay home, causes decline in travel trends, etc.
    5. Wearing a mask does not cause Coronavirus to spread.

    Like

  8. justheretopass says:

    1) Eliminating online school will help students.
    2) Eliminating online school will help students learn and focus better on school work.
    3) Students will be able to be in a less distracting environment and a more comfortable learning environment, allowing them to learn better.
    4) Students who are in person classes will allow them to be in a more comfortable situation of learning allowing them to focus on school with limited distractions allowing them to actually learn.
    5) Elimination online school won’t directly mean that the students will focus better.

    Like

  9. imgoingswimming says:
    1. (X causes Y) Making all cars electric would increase the amount of coal and natural gas used in electric plants.

    2. (X causes Y and Z) Changing all cars to electric power would result in more non-renewable energy usage and also an increase in electric plants.

    3. (Both X and Y cause Z) Increase use of electricity and increased awareness of the environmental impact will push people to lead to more renewable energy.

    4. (X causes Y, which causes Z) Changing to electric cars would increase the amount of non-renewable energy usage in plants, which would increase pollution.

    5. (X does not cause Y) If we are to change to electric vehicles to save the environment it will not accomplish this.

    Like

    • davidbdale says:

      These are very nice, Swimming, and thank you for the parenthetical reminders.
      Regarding 5, just a syntax note. Whenever possible, eliminate both IF and IT.
      “Changing to electric vehicles will not save the planet.”

      Like

  10. johnwick66 says:

    Single cause with single effect: Cancel culture in their attempts to stop racism, it adversely creates more racism

    Single cause with several effects: public shaming(Cancel culture) is the reason that people stop voicing their opinion and that a extremely large amount of people online would rather be spectators rather than participate in online activities.

    Several causes with a single effect : online amenity and dehumanizing the “cancelled” gives the people of cancel culture their motive to commit their acts.

    Causal Chain: Allowing cancel culture to remain unchecked will allow it to progress to the point were people would be cancelled for anything that’s deemed unacceptable to the faceless masses, which would result in no one being safe from being attacked or having their past dug up to haunt them.

    Causation Fallacy: Cancel culture is not the solution to stopping racism.

    Like

  11. davidbdale says:

    Your arguments are sound, JohnWick. You’re getting more comfortable making claims about your research topic. It’s encouraging to see.

    Some syntax notes:

    Cancel culture in their attempts to stop racism, it adversely creates more racism.
    —Lose any IT when it replaces the subject you’ve already named.
    —Cancel culture, in its attempt to stop racism, adversely creates more racism.

    Public shaming (cancel culture) is the reason that people stop voicing their opinion and that an extremely large amount of people online would rather be spectators rather than participate in online activities.
    —If you can count them (such as people), use NUMBER of people not AMOUNT of people.
    —Use only one RATHER.
    —Public shaming (cancel culture) is the reason that people stop voicing their opinion and that an extremely large NUMBER of people online would rather be spectators than participate in online activities.

    Online anonymity and dehumanizing the “cancelled” gives the people of cancel culture their motive to commit their acts.
    —For two subjects, use the PLURAL verb GIVE.
    —Online anonymity and dehumanizing the “cancelled” GIVE the people of cancel culture their motive to commit their acts.

    No changes needed to the others, JW. Fine work overall.

    Like

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