Causal Reasoning

6lehderjets
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Causal Reasoning

Postby 6lehderjets » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:05 pm

Is every causal relationship we see in LR flawed? I have been seeing that the majority of causal relationships are flawed but I wanted to make sure if that was applicable throughout the test before assuming such a sweeping generalization.

Thanks.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby JamMasterJ » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:10 pm

6lehderjets wrote:Is every causal relationship we see in LR flawed? I have been seeing that the majority of causal relationships are flawed but I wanted to make sure if that was applicable throughout the test before assuming such a sweeping generalization.

Thanks.

What are you talking about?
I think the answer is no, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. There are def more flawed reasoning questions than ones with solid reasoning, but not all are flawed.

6lehderjets
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby 6lehderjets » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:22 pm

I understand there are many types of flawed reasoning. But my question is exclusive to questions that have causal reasoning.

chia99
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby chia99 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:25 pm

JamMasterJ wrote:
6lehderjets wrote:Is every causal relationship we see in LR flawed? I have been seeing that the majority of causal relationships are flawed but I wanted to make sure if that was applicable throughout the test before assuming such a sweeping generalization.

Thanks.

What are you talking about?
I think the answer is no, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. There are def more flawed reasoning questions than ones with solid reasoning, but not all are flawed.




LOLLLLL. "I have no clue what your talking about but I'll answer anyways."

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TommyK
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby TommyK » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:30 pm

6lehderjets wrote:I understand there are many types of flawed reasoning. But my question is exclusive to questions that causal reasoning.


That's not what he was asking. No, not all causal reasoning is flawed, but the LSAT takes great advantage of that it is a very common logical assumption - conflating correlation with causation.

For example, "As ice cream consumption rises, so does drowning. Therefore if a society wants to reduce drowning, society should eliminate ice cream consumption", a typical response could be "author conflates correlation with causation", or "author overlooks an external variable that is likely influencing both" In this example, drawing a causal link between ice cream consumption and drowning is likely flawed.

In other examples, it would not be flawed. "Studies have shown that after-school mentoring programs have produced literacy gains among a representative sample of under-performing students. Therefore all under-performing students should be mandated to go through after-school mentoring programs". This is not a causal flaw. It is likely to be weakened by that literacy should be a goal of society, or that the opportunity cost of the after-school programs is too significant to warrant it. But choosing something like "The causal relationship between after-school mentoring programs and literacy gains is not sufficiently strong to recommend such programs" would not be a strong answer

6lehderjets
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby 6lehderjets » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:39 pm

TommyK wrote:
6lehderjets wrote:I understand there are many types of flawed reasoning. But my question is exclusive to questions that causal reasoning.


That's not what he was asking. No, not all causal reasoning is flawed, but the LSAT takes great advantage of that it is a very common logical assumption - conflating correlation with causation.

For example, "As ice cream consumption rises, so does drowning. Therefore if a society wants to reduce drowning, society should eliminate ice cream consumption", a typical response could be "author conflates correlation with causation", or "author overlooks an external variable that is likely influencing both" In this example, drawing a causal link between ice cream consumption and drowning is likely flawed.

In other examples, it would not be flawed. "Studies have shown that after-school mentoring programs have produced literacy gains among a representative sample of under-performing students. Therefore all under-performing students should be mandated to go through after-school mentoring programs". This is not a causal flaw. It is likely to be weakened by that literacy should be a goal of society, or that the opportunity cost of the after-school programs is too significant to warrant it. But choosing something like "The causal relationship between after-school mentoring programs and literacy gains is not sufficiently strong to recommend such programs" would not be a strong answer


But based a stimulus how can we conclusively say it was in fact the after school mentoring program that produced literary gains? What if all the students in after school mentoring programs were eating nutritious breakfasts? Then one may be inclined to say nutritious breakfasts lead to literary gains.

The bare bones of my question is: Is every time we see cause and effect in a LR stimulus a form of flawed reasoning?

From your post I believe your getting at the fact that it depends on the context of the question.

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Kabuo
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby Kabuo » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:42 pm

chia99 wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:
6lehderjets wrote:Is every causal relationship we see in LR flawed? I have been seeing that the majority of causal relationships are flawed but I wanted to make sure if that was applicable throughout the test before assuming such a sweeping generalization.

Thanks.

What are you talking about?
I think the answer is no, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. There are def more flawed reasoning questions than ones with solid reasoning, but not all are flawed.




LOLLLLL. "I have no clue what your talking about but I'll answer anyways."


Maybe try that again, champ. It reads more like "I'm not sure what you're asking, but if it's what I think it is, then no."

6lehderjets
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby 6lehderjets » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:45 pm

I got it. It depends on where the causal relationship occurs. If the author concludes with a causal relationship then the reasoning is flawed, but if the causal statement is the premises then the argument may be flawed but not because of the causal statement. (Source: PS LRB)

I think that is what you were getting at TommyK.

Thanks for the input.

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TommyK
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby TommyK » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:47 pm

6lehderjets wrote:But based a stimulus how can we conclusively say it was in fact the after school mentoring program that produced literary gains? What if all the students in after school mentoring programs were eating nutritious breakfasts? Then one may be inclined to say nutritious breakfasts lead to literary gains.


We can probably eliminate other unidentified variables by the studies being drawn from an otherwise fully-representative sample. These were questions that I came up with off the top of my ahead so I'm sure you can identify flaws with the questions, but the wording was drawn narrowly enough that it is reasonable to draw a correlation between the program and the effect

6lehderjets wrote:The bare bones of my question is: Is every time we see cause and effect in a LR stimulus a form of flawed reasoning?


Can you give an example? You can PM if you want, but my answer will probably be: no, that's not how the LSAT works. There very well may be some times when you can draw a causal relationship between two things, but it's pretty difficult: you have to exclude all other variables & show a correlation. Most of the questions will just do the latter.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby JamMasterJ » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:48 pm

Kabuo wrote:
chia99 wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:
6lehderjets wrote:Is every causal relationship we see in LR flawed? I have been seeing that the majority of causal relationships are flawed but I wanted to make sure if that was applicable throughout the test before assuming such a sweeping generalization.

Thanks.

What are you talking about?
I think the answer is no, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. There are def more flawed reasoning questions than ones with solid reasoning, but not all are flawed.



LOLLLLL. "I have no clue what your talking about but I'll answer anyways."


Maybe try that again, champ. It reads more like "I'm not sure what you're asking, but if it's what I think it is, then no."

Thanks Kab. Yeah, I was fairly sure I was answering the right question but not positive =/= I have no clue but fuck it, I'll answer anyway.

To clarify, OP, there are more flawed causal reasoning questions on LR than correct ones. However, you will still see many valid causal reasonings. For example, parallel valid questions often have this type of structure: if a then b and if b and c then d. A and c, therefore, d.

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TommyK
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby TommyK » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:49 pm

6lehderjets wrote:I got it. It depends on where the causal relationship occurs. If the author concludes with a causal relationship then the reasoning is flawed, but if the causal statement is the premises then the argument may be flawed but not because of the causal statement. (Source: PS LRB)


I guess that's true. They won't give you any information in the premise that can be logically proven false. They won't say "A is red. Carla likes all red things. Therefore, Carla should buy A", and have the right answer "A is actually blue, therefore carla shouldn't buy it".

By the way, I have the worst examples ever. One of the many reasons I shouldn't teach this shit.

6lehderjets
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby 6lehderjets » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:54 pm

TommyK wrote:
6lehderjets wrote:I got it. It depends on where the causal relationship occurs. If the author concludes with a causal relationship then the reasoning is flawed, but if the causal statement is the premises then the argument may be flawed but not because of the causal statement. (Source: PS LRB)


I guess that's true. They won't give you any information in the premise that can be logically proven false. They won't say "A is red. Carla likes all red things. Therefore, Carla should buy A", and have the right answer "A is actually blue, therefore carla shouldn't buy it".

By the way, I have the worst examples ever. One of the many reasons I shouldn't teach this shit.



No worries, it got me thinking me enough to put me on the right track. So you definitely provided a worthwhile contribution.

6lehderjets
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby 6lehderjets » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:56 pm

To clarify, OP, there are more flawed causal reasoning questions on LR than correct ones. However, you will still see many valid causal reasonings. For example, parallel valid questions often have this type of structure: if a then b and if b and c then d. A and c, therefore, d.


Gotcha, thanks for the input!

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suspicious android
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby suspicious android » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:24 pm

JamMasterJ wrote:
To clarify, OP, there are more flawed causal reasoning questions on LR than correct ones. However, you will still see many valid causal reasonings. For example, parallel valid questions often have this type of structure: if a then b and if b and c then d. A and c, therefore, d.


This is not a causal argument.

Regarding causal arguments, it is impossible to prove causation rationally (see David Hume on this one). Only if the causal link is a premise can a causal argument be truly valid. I don't recall any question that does that though.

jamesireland
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby jamesireland » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:36 pm

suspicious android wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:
To clarify, OP, there are more flawed causal reasoning questions on LR than correct ones. However, you will still see many valid causal reasonings. For example, parallel valid questions often have this type of structure: if a then b and if b and c then d. A and c, therefore, d.


This is not a causal argument.

Regarding causal arguments, it is impossible to prove causation rationally (see David Hume on this one). Only if the causal link is a premise can a causal argument be truly valid. I don't recall any question that does that though.


A common misunderstanding of Hume. Hume's claim was not that causal (or any other inductive) proof was not rational, or valid, or good, or any such thing. His claim was that they are not deductively, ultimately non-circularly, valid. They are nonetheless valid inferences (at least some of the time), supported by custom.

Later writers such as Goodman and Quine agreed with Hume for the most part, but would offer alternative explanations as to what makes these inferences valid. One might read Popper as making the claim that all inductive arguments are invalid, but I think even that would be a stretch.

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Kabuo
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby Kabuo » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:54 pm

Epistemology is very important on the LSAT.

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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby jamesireland » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:01 am

Kabuo wrote:Epistemology is very important on the LSAT.


It's a good thing this isn't the LSAT.

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Kabuo
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby Kabuo » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:07 am

jamesireland wrote:
Kabuo wrote:Epistemology is very important on the LSAT.


It's a good thing this isn't the LSAT.


It's a good thing we aren't only expected to talk about the LSAT during the LSAT, since talking isn't allowed. This is, however, a LR question in an LSAT forum. Wow me with your philosophy skillz though. I only posted this for the big 800 (I typically don't really care about other people being on topic).

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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby jamesireland » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:15 am

Kabuo wrote:
jamesireland wrote:
Kabuo wrote:Epistemology is very important on the LSAT.


It's a good thing this isn't the LSAT.


It's a good thing we aren't only expected to talk about the LSAT during the LSAT, since talking isn't allowed. This is, however, a LR question in an LSAT forum. Wow me with your philosophy skillz though. I only posted this for the big 800 (I typically don't really care about other people being on topic).


The topic is causal reasoning. The question was whether all causal reasoning is flawed. One answer was that yes it is, and that answer pointed to support. I then claimed that the support offered for that answer does not actually support the answer as stated. Wow me with your snark skillz though. I only posted this for the big 25 (I don't normally care about showing how I was on topic).

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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby CodyRuegger » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:39 am

If there is causal reasoning in a question stimulus, you can pretty much expect the answer of the question to address it in some way.

If you're strengthening a causal reasoning passage, the right answer will be one that strengthens the causal relationship, ie. by ruling out an alternative cause, or showing that the effect doesn't occur without the cause.

If you're weakening, do the opposite. Some ways to do this are showing that the effect occurs without the cause, that the relationship is actually reversed, or that both cause and effect are actually caused by something else.

You'll also encounter them in straight up flaw of reasoning questions. Typically, the answer you'll be looking for will be 'this argument is flawed because it overlooks that fact that B could occur without A,' or some other phrase that pokes a hole in the causal assumption.

I would say that causal reasoning in LR is generally flawed *except* when evidence is presented that clearly proves the relationship, like a series of airtight medical studies. Be sure to discriminate it carefully from conditional reasoning, which is always valid, no matter how absurd the passage is.

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Kabuo
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby Kabuo » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:52 am

jamesireland wrote:
Kabuo wrote:
jamesireland wrote:
Kabuo wrote:Epistemology is very important on the LSAT.


It's a good thing this isn't the LSAT.


It's a good thing we aren't only expected to talk about the LSAT during the LSAT, since talking isn't allowed. This is, however, a LR question in an LSAT forum. Wow me with your philosophy skillz though. I only posted this for the big 800 (I typically don't really care about other people being on topic).


The topic is causal reasoning. The question was whether all causal reasoning is flawed. One answer was that yes it is, and that answer pointed to support. I then claimed that the support offered for that answer does not actually support the answer as stated. Wow me with your snark skillz though. I only posted this for the big 25 (I don't normally care about showing how I was on topic).


Guy, read the first sentence of the OP, reproduced, infra:

6lehderjets wrote:Is every causal relationship we see in LR flawed? I have been seeing that the majority of causal relationships are flawed but I wanted to make sure if that was applicable throughout the test before assuming such a sweeping generalization.

Thanks.


In fact, read the rest of it too. Makes it abundantly clear that the question is in regard to causal reasoning on the LSAT.

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suspicious android
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby suspicious android » Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:06 am

jamesireland wrote:Hume's claim was not that causal (or any other inductive) proof was not rational, or valid, or good, or any such thing. His claim was that they are not deductively, ultimately non-circularly, valid. They are nonetheless valid inferences (at least some of the time), supported by custom.


I think it's pretty clear that I was claiming you cannot deductively prove a causal claim. I mean, what else might I have meant? Some sort of radical skepticism? Epistemic nihilism? I guess you were jumping on the term "rationally", which I suppose could be interpreted too broadly. But it's a common term of art in this discussion; Hume essentially claimed causal inferences were not a product of reason, but rather of the imagination. So to refer to that idea maybe I should have said "cannot be proven through reason alone" or something. But anyway, the original intent of the comment stands, and is even supported by your statement. I find it kind of unlikely that anyone would interpret it differently unless they were looking to pick a fight. Which, I guess, is the only logical reaosn to study philsophy, anyway, so I guess it all fits.

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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby jamesireland » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:11 am

suspicious android wrote:
jamesireland wrote:Hume's claim was not that causal (or any other inductive) proof was not rational, or valid, or good, or any such thing. His claim was that they are not deductively, ultimately non-circularly, valid. They are nonetheless valid inferences (at least some of the time), supported by custom.


I think it's pretty clear that I was claiming you cannot deductively prove a causal claim. I mean, what else might I have meant? Some sort of radical skepticism? Epistemic nihilism? I guess you were jumping on the term "rationally", which I suppose could be interpreted too broadly. But it's a common term of art in this discussion; Hume essentially claimed causal inferences were not a product of reason, but rather of the imagination. So to refer to that idea maybe I should have said "cannot be proven through reason alone" or something. But anyway, the original intent of the comment stands, and is even supported by your statement. I find it kind of unlikely that anyone would interpret it differently unless they were looking to pick a fight. Which, I guess, is the only logical reaosn to study philsophy, anyway, so I guess it all fits.


Now this is possibly getting off topic, but the term 'rational' definitely has no widely agreed upon definition. At best it represents a sort of value judgment regarding ways of thinking - to call something rational is to say that it is an acceptable/good way of thinking. Hume would certainly not want to impute causal reasoning, or any other form of scientific reasoning for that matter.

It may be that according to the writers of the LSAT, all causal reasoning is flawed. But, this is certainly not something we can find out by looking to Hume, since he clearly did not think scientific reasoning flawed.

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TommyK
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby TommyK » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:16 am

This is why nobody likes philosophy majors. Every conversation turns into bullshit esoteric philosophy circlejerk.

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Kabuo
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Re: Causal Reasoning

Postby Kabuo » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:46 am

TommyK wrote:This is why nobody likes philosophy majors. Every conversation turns into bullshit esoteric philosophy circlejerk.




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