Causal Claims

lawschool2014hopeful
Posts: 554
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:48 pm

Causal Claims

Postby lawschool2014hopeful » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:36 pm

Hello All,

I am hoping someone would clear a confusion for me.

Every prep company claims that once a passage/stimulus on the LSAT claims a causal connection, they are assuming that is the only cause. For example if a passage claims increase in mercury level in bird feathers is caused by increased in mercury in fish, we are to assume that the argument there are no alternative explanations to account for increase in mercury in birds (Q11, Section 3, LR test 51.5 June).

But if we were given a conditional statement in that the passage tells X causes Y, we CANNOT assume that X is the only cause of Y.

So why the different interpretations?

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anon sequitur
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:14 am

Re: Causal Claims

Postby anon sequitur » Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:11 pm

Not every company claims this. It's a crappy short-cut that is fairly helpful on most every C&E question to assume that every effect has one cause. I always found it a ridiculous assertion and it's one of the reasons I don't really like the PS Bible.

bp shinners
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: Causal Claims

Postby bp shinners » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:03 pm

jimmierock wrote:But if we were given a conditional statement in that the passage tells X causes Y, we CANNOT assume that X is the only cause of Y.

So why the different interpretations?


I might be misunderstanding you here, but I don't think they're different interpretations - they're different situations.

If an argument gives me a bunch of info and come to a causal conclusion, and that info doesn't rule out every other possibility, I'm certainly assuming that this correlation explains the causation, usually the exclusion to everything else (depends on the language of the conclusion). Without ruling out the other causes, I've committed a fallacy here.

In your second situation, I'm told in a premise that I have a causal relationship (which is the only time on the LSAT, without an extremely strong statement ruling everything else out, that I can come to a causal conclusion). I have to accept that relationship. But the statement you make above doesn't say that X is the only cause of Y, just that X causes Y. From that simple statement, I can't go further to conclude that nothing else causes X.

For instance, lighting a match causes fire. That doesn't mean that ONLY lighting a match causes fire. That's an additional statement that I'd need to back up (and it's stronger, so I'd need to back it up with a stronger statement).




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