Types of Causal Arguments

In the post for Assignment P05: Causal Argument, I’ve provided several examples of 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.

As an alternative, if you aren’t prepared to argue about your own reading, make the same brief arguments in reaction to the “Mammogram Team Learns from its Mistakes” reading.

  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)

Example Questions you could answer with Causal Arguments:

  • What caused the woeful 65% national “success” rate for radiologists reading mammograms?
  • What caused Dr. Adcock to believe he could improve this horrible situation?
  • What caused Kaiser Permanente to adopt the dangerous new strategy?
  • What were the results of publishing the news internally for the radiologists to see?

23 thoughts on “Types of Causal Arguments”

  1. Collegiate varsity teams have not had huge success because of the lack of coaching available.

    Esports not being mainstream and not being considered an actual sport has created hesititation for colleges to enter the scene

    If esports was mainstream for colleges, it could create more opportunity for students to be enagaged in the community and have scholarship opportunities

    Colleges not being able to select top players from their school for varsity team has left college clubs being more skilled than the varsity teams

    Sports being more physically intense has made it hard to justify esports being a sport even though they go thru similar training hours.


  2. 1. Blacks react to police because of police brutality
    2. Police brutality causes riots and people fear police
    3. Blacks resist officer and fear officer in fear of brutality
    4. Blacks resisting arrest causes police to use excess amount of force which causes riots
    5. whites resisting arrest does not cause police brutality


  3. 1. Concussions cause CTE
    2. Risk compensation causes players to hit harder, and have riskier hits
    3.The combination of helmets, and pads cause more severe injuries to other players
    4. Huge helmet to helmet hits cause concussions, causing CTE later in life
    5. The removal of helmets will prevent hard hitting, risky behavior


  4. Single Cause with Single Effect
    – Because the MBK movement provides young black males with support and mentoring, it produces more responsible young men in our communicates.
    Single Cause with Several Effects
    – When young men think more broadly about their future, there will be more enrollments in college, less high school drop out and a better graduation rate. Because young males are thinking about their future at a younger age, it prepares them to think about a better education in order to be successful.
    Several Causes for a Single Effect
    – More intelegent, respectful and successful young black males could effect the crime rate in communities. When young people are introduce to things other than what they are used to such as crime, police brutality and thing in that nature, this could change the way they look at life. In this program, they are taught to think more broadly about their future with things like college. College could
    A Casal Chain
    – The MBK movement provides help and support to young men. This can cause better communities, less crime, and more respectful young black men. This can effect crime rate, college rates as in more young black men enrolling in college. It can also cause effect such as better parenting in the future because these young men can pass down their practices they learned from this program to their children.
    Causation Fallacy
    – Young men are not the only ones who need help in our communities. To make a better community there are other who need guidance and help as well. People such as young girls, homeless and addicts also need our help. The teen pregnancy rate as sky rocketing in the past few years. Homeless and addicts don’t always get the right attention they need in communities.


  5. 5. Fighting in the NHL does not cause as many injuries as much as normal playing in hockey. More players have been injured from getting hit during regular playtime than in an actual fight. Very few players get injured from fighting compared to regular play because fighting does not happen as much and some people may think. You have a greater chance of getting hit in the head and getting a concussion then getting hurt from a fight. In a fight you may get a bloody nose and a busted lip. You may be knocked out from one punch in a fight but nine times out of ten you will be fine shortly after.


  6. 1. Without business ethics the effect is losing your job.
    2. Without moral ethics the effects can be no one will treat you with respect and you may not land the job you want.
    3. I get the job done the effects of that are I feel satisfied and my boss is happy.
    4. If I send work to a worker, the worker will do the same until someone stands up and does the work.
    5. If I follow what is right it doesn’t mean others will do as well.


  7. In Class Exercise: American Healthcare
    1. Single Cause-Single Effect
    Prices for healthcare are to high for people to afford it. People are dying as a result to not seeking treatment.
    2. Single Cause-Serveral Effect
    Prices for healthcare are to high for people to afford it. In a result to not having healthcare more and more people are getting sick, dying, and contaminating the people around them.
    3. Several Causes- Single Effect
    Prices for healthcare are to high for people to afford it. Not only is it to expensive to obtain, but it taints the images freedom in our country; taking away the morality and rights of the American people. Because of these problems, more people are choosing not to have healthcare and are suffering.
    4. Causal Chain
    The fact that people can’t afford healthcare leads them to not buy healthcare. That cause effects the purchase of healthcare, which leads to health complications for the people should can’t afford it.
    5. Causation Fallacy
    With the best and most expensive healthcare, the American people should be healthy and strong. That isn’t the case when they can’t afford it.


  8. The more evidence a criminal leaves behind, the easier it makes it for the FBI to figure them out and catch them. With the failure to make the correct profile of the criminal, the more the criminal feels in power, the more the criminal feels a step ahead, the more crminals will feel they can fool the FBI, the more the crime and killing inceases. People with mental illness, People with anger, Males who feel the need to show dominace, these people all the the potential to kill and keep killing. Criminals who steal or rob others have the potential to take a hostage or victim who they end up raping or abusing and then could get scared they might talk so they kill them in order to keep them quiet. When criminals are caught they don’t get mad at the FBI for catching them, they usually end up getting upset with themselves for getting caught or making the decisions they did in the first place.


  9. 1. Use of creatine leads to overall lean muscle gain.
    2. Use of creatine leads to both lean muscle gain and an overall gain in muscular endurance.
    3. Use of creatine leads to lean muscle gain and an overall gain in muscular endurance, as well as slight improvements to long term health.
    4. Use of creatine leads to lean muscle gain and a gain in muscular endurance, which leads to an increase in athletic performance in some athletes, which leads to teams getting better outcomes out of their games, which leads to a happier coach.
    5. Use of creatine does not lead to improvement of cardiovascular endurance.


  10. 1.Traumatic events cause depression.
    2.Traumatic events causes depression and mental illness.
    3.Bullying and traumatic events cause depression.
    4.Traumatic events cause depression. Depression causes mental illness. Mental illness causes bad decisions.
    5. Depression doesn’t always cause suicide.


  11. 1. Taking care of a disabled family member causes stress on other family members.
    2. Life may seem unfair to the person who is disabled.
    3. One member of the family over another takes more time out to provide care to the disabled child.
    4. Parents are obligated to take care of their children.
    5. Children have no obligations until negotiated with parent.


  12. 1) Taking orcas from the wild cuts their lifespan in half.
    2) Imprisoning orcas hurts not only the orcas, but it also hurts the audience.
    3) Greed of Seaworld and oblivion of its audience, causes the suffering of orcas.
    4) By buying tickets to SeaWorld we cause the pain and imprisonment of orcas. Parents wanting to take children out. Looking for a “family friendly” event. Google recommends SeaWorld. Buys tickets to SeaWorld. Seaworld reaping in benefits. Indulges SeaWorld to breed more orcas for their benefit. The more attendance at parks, the more push to keep enslaving animals.
    5) Humanity does not give us the right to subject animals to inhumane conditions.


  13. Causal Arguments: Abuse within foster homes.

    1. Children may become suicidal because of abuse within foster homes.
    2. Abuse may cause children to become depressed or can contribute to children having PSTD.
    3. This causes one to be distraught and to have temperamental beliefs of trust.
    4. This can cause developmental issues for the child.
    5. Physical and mental abuse may cause a child to become dangerous or they may discipline their children the way they were disciplined.


  14. 1. Chanting causes people to think that they are happier.
    2. Chanting causes people to think that they are happier and healthier.
    3. Chanting and meditation causes people to think that they are happier.
    4. Chanting causes people to think they are happier which causes them to chant more.
    5. Chanting does not cause people to be happier, it just makes them think they are.


  15. 1) America’s unequal funding of school funding is what causes the learning gap between poor and rich communities.
    2) The lack of education causes children to perform poorly on tests and works and also causes them to be unprepared for schooling in the future.
    3)The lack of even funding of schools and property taxes are responsible for the lack of education among the youth.
    4) The lack of education causes the innocent youth to suffer, which causes parents and teachers to be outraged.
    5) Merely the location of a school has nothing to do with the quality of education.


  16. 1. Trump in the White House caused our foreign policy with other nations to crumble
    2. The turf in NRG stadium has caused multiple knee injuries to Texans players in the past 5 years
    3. Terrorism causes racism, racism causes hatred towards minorities
    4. Privileged kids have a better chance to make it in sports (fallacy)
    5. Visualizing domestic abuse causes kids to abuse their future significant others


  17. 1. The prescription of adderall to children causes addiction problems in the future
    2. the prescription of adderall to children causes addiction, and drug abuse
    3. Psychologists knowingly perscribe adderall because they know of its addictive properties
    4. The prescription of adderall causes addiction, abuse, and a resort to a legal street drug
    5. The prescription if adderall is not for the benefit of the child


  18. 1. stress cause students to not function properly
    2. not functioning properly causes us to stress even more
    3. this make it become more severe
    4. to cope people may turn to the abuse of drugs/ drinking in college
    5. it cause you to rely on this short term sense of relief.


  19. 1. Being light skin colored multiracial causes privilege
    2. Being light skin colored multiracial causes privilege and identity crisis
    3. Being light skin colored multiracial and part of the people of color community causes privilege
    4. Being light skin colored multiracial does not effect the amount of privilege you have

    Liked by 1 person

  20. 1. Shorted wires cause smoke detectors to catch fire
    2. Shorted wires cause extreme heat and fire
    3. Detectors catching fire is caused by shorted wires and overloaded circuits.
    4. An overloaded circuit causes extreme heat in the wires, which then causes the smoke detector to catch fire.
    5. Fuses do not prevent electrical fires.


  21. Causal Arguments
    1. Black fashion in the mainstream media causes cultural appropriation.
    2. Black fashion in the mainstream media causes cultural appropriation and black people to lose their identity.
    3. Popular white celebrities and black fashion causes cultural appropriation.
    4. Popular white celebrities wearing black fashion causes cultural appropriation which also causes black people to lose their identity in society.
    5. White people wearing black fashion does not cause them to be a victim in the negative side effects of being black.


  22. Causal Arguments – Placebo Effect
    1. If you believe something to be true, then it is much more likely to occur or effect you.
    2. In a clinical trial, not everybody will end up with the same results. The placebo and actual drug may effect people differently.
    3. There are many way to activate the placebo effect. Asking somebody to confirm race/gender can effect somebody’s self-esteem but so can giving somebody a pill and wearing a doctor’s coat
    4. Asking girls to confirm their gender before taking a test leads to low self-esteem which leads to lower test scores.
    5. The placebo effect is not always 100%.


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