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We’re all familiar with causal arguments—we’ve been making them since
we were very young.
For instance:
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the Beatles (shame on you), I bet
you can tell me what caused the Beatles to break up. . .
We All Still Blame Yoko . .
John and Yoko on the Dick Cavett Show
Paul actually filed a lawsuit to dissolve the Beatles in 1970.
Five minutes worth of research on Wikipedia would provide us
with this conclusion:
*Note that Yoko Ono is actually number four on this list.
But if someone call pull apart your argument as quickly as we’ve
just pulled apart the “Yoko Ono” one, you’ve got a problem.
Quiz preview for next class:
Chapter 12 discusses two fallacies common to causal
arguments (p. 247). Explain which fallacy you believe could lead
people to accept that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles.
One more example . . .
Looking at the following picture, I want you to write down
(briefly) what you believe to be the cause.
Study the picture, then write for a minute or two about
what caused the event.
“I don’t know,” is not an acceptable answer.
The Herald of Free Enterprise was a
British ferry, operating in the
English Channel (this was before
the “chunnel” was opened).
On March 6, 1987, the ferry
capsized killing 193 people. It was
the worst maritime disaster for the
British since the sinking of the
But why?
For this unit, we’re going to be interested in
making causal arguments.
But as we do, let’s keep in mind that most events
aren’t caused by one thing alone.
Causes and effects are rooted in complexity.
Academic arguments that aim to present and
convince an audience of a cause (or causes) need
to do justice to the complexity of the issue, or
they risk failing altogether.

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