Causation - CAUSAL EXPLANATIONS I Causal explanations...

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CAUSAL EXPLANATIONS I Causal explanations involve cause and effect Single events from the past or sequences of events from the past are explained by citing other events The event to be explained is the “effect” and the other events included in the explanation are “causes” Causes generally occur prior to the effect Causal explanations assert that the effect occurred because of the prior occurrence of the cause For every effect, there are an indefinite number of causes
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CAUSAL EXPLANTIONS II Usually expressed in terms of probability Historians can never assert that an effect will always happen but only that it will probably happen Historians therefore seldom use the term “cause” but instead employ terms like “influence,” “may cause,” etc. Use equivocal terms to express the degree of uncertainty embedded in their causal explanation
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DIFFICULTIES Logically demonstrating that the occurrence of an event caused a later event to happen is a process fraught with all kinds of dangers The biggest danger revolves around the issue of connections Just because Event A occurred before Event B, why does it necessarily follow that A caused B to occur?
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ESTABLISHING A CAUSAL RELATONSHIP 1 There must be a correlation between the two events A correlation is the degree to which the occurrence of one event is associated with the occurrence of another event It is the degree of interactivity between two or more events
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ESTABLISHING A CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP 2 There must be a proper temporal relationship in the occurrence of events The cause must occur before the effect
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ESTABLISHING A CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP 3 There must be some sort of theoretical generalization to connect the two events Theoretical generalizations are almost always implicit rather than explicit in causal explanations But they are nonetheless an essential part of every logically valid causal explanation
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LOGICAL FALLACY #1 Mistaking correlation for Cause (cum hoc, propter hoc) Correlation by itself can never establish
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This note was uploaded on 01/16/2012 for the course HIST 440 taught by Professor Guthrie,c during the Fall '08 term at Tarleton.

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Causation - CAUSAL EXPLANATIONS I Causal explanations...

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