Doyle Online Writing Lab

Hum 110: Causal Arguments & Herodotus

What is a Causal Argument?
x ==> y (or x ==> q ==> r ==> z ==> y therefore x==>y)
-x ==> -y (or -x ==> -q ==> -r ==> -y therefore -x ==> -y)

Generic Example:
Whenever I forget my raincoat, it begins to rain. Whenever I wear my raincoat, it doesn't rain. Therefore, forgetting my coat is probably the reason why it rains.

Assumption: There is no other cause


To Weaken: Show there is another cause. Show that something interferes & causes y not to happen. Show that x isn't the cause.

e.g. ________________________________________________________________________

To Strengthen: Cite an alternate cause or interference & eliminate it as a possibility. Show x is the cause.

e.g. ________________________________________________________________________

Example from Herodotus p. 136 (2.13):
Like the Greeks, the Egyptians are susceptible to famine. Why? Because if the land below Memphis continues to increase in height at the same rate, then the river can no longer flood the fields, and the people who live there will go hungry.

i.e. increase height ==> river can flood fields (==> people can't irrigate their crops ==> crops will fail) ==> people will starve.

TO WEAKEN: ________________________________________________________________________

TO STRENGTHEN: ________________________________________________________________________

What does Herodotus say that strengthens his argument?