CAUSAL ARGUMENTS How one event brings about another Kathryn Green and Sarah Aebersold A nice day for a trip…. Herald of Free Enterprise in Dover's Eastern Docks, 1984 So what happened? MS Herald of Free Enterprise was a car and passenger ferry. She was one of the ships operating on the Dover-to-Calais route across the English Channel. The ferry capsized on the night of March 6, 1987, moments after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, killing 193 passengers and crew. Why? Probable causes…. tracing the events Level of complexity makes it difficult to summarize in “because clauses.” LET’S TRY THIS EXAMPLE: A bicyclist moves into the traffic lane in order to pass a truck illegally parked in the bike lane. The driver of a car approaching from the rear slams on her brakes in order to avoid hitting the bicycle. A following car fails to stop in time, and smashes into the back of the first car. The insurance companies disagree about who should be held responsible, and they go to court to decide who CAUSED the accident. What arguments are likely to be made in court? The lawyer for the cyclist will probably claim that the illegally parked truck CAUSED his client to swerve into the lane of traffic. The lawyer for the driver of the first car will probably claim that the cyclist’s actions CAUSED his client to slam on the brakes. The lawyer for the second driver will probably claim that the first car’s sudden stop CAUSED her client to smash into the back of it. This is all true. How do you argue for your client successfully? What type of causal relationship are you dealing with? • Onetime Phenomenon (a car accident) • Recurring Phenomenon (alcoholism) • Puzzling Trend (decrease in ENGL101 enrollments) Choose the method that best states your case. 1. Explain the causal mechanism directly • Causal chain – A causes B 2. Infer causal links by inductive reasoning • Infer general conclusion based on a number of specific cases Three ways of thinking “inductively” 1. Look for Common Element Ex: in X cases, “this” happened most of the time 2. Look for Single Difference Ex: in X cases, “this” only happened once – one event stood out 3. Look for Correlations Ex: in X cases, when “this” occurs “that” is likely to occur Meanwhile…. back in court…. • This is a one time phenomenon. • The lawyer for the cyclist explains the causal chain directly. • Truck parked in bike lane • Bike swerves into traffic to avoid truck • Car 1 slams on brakes so doesn’t hit biker • Car 2 slams on brakes so doesn’t hit car 1 “The illegally parked truck CAUSED her client to swerve into the lane of traffic.” CASED CLOSED …but, what if additional evidence is presented that shows the cyclist has caused three other traffic accidents by swerving into traffic. YOU BETTER BE PREPARED! • Identify your audience - WA page 251 • Organize your argument in one of three ways - WA pages 252-253 Plan 1: Explain links in causal chain Plan 2: Argument proposing multiple causes or consequences of a phenomenon Plan 3: Argument proposing surprising causes or consequences • Question and critique – WA page 251 Be a skeptic The final verdict: What CAUSED the MS Herald of Free Enterprise to sink? A Critical Inquiry found that the sinking was CAUSED by three main factors: The Assistant Boatswain’s failure to close the bow doors. The First Officer’s failure to make sure the bow doors were closed. The Captain’s decision to leave port without confirming that the bow doors were closed. The accident is considered the worst maritime disaster involving a British registered ship in peacetime since the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.