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Effects-to-Cause Reasoning


Disciplines Argument > Types of reasoning > Effects-to-Cause Reasoning

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When describing a cause-effect situation, start with the effect or effects and then work back to the cause of these. You can do this by asking 'why did this happen', creating curiosity and then explaining why.

Using the word 'because' to connect effects to cause can be particular effective. 'If you want...then...' can also be useful.



Say this Not this
You lost the game because you did not listen to me. You did not listen to me so you lost the game.
The economy is suffering. The President is too concerned with foreign policy. The President's foreign policy is causing the economy to suffer.
If you want to rule the world, you have got to work hard now. Work hard now and you will be able to rule the world.
Can I have a cup of coffee? I am very thirsty. I am very thirsty. Can I have a cup of coffee?



Cause-and-effect reasoning is generally persuasive as it helps answer the question 'why' something happens, making a statement objective and rational rather than a blind assertion.

Putting the effects first anchors the statement in reality. It makes a statement that cannot be denied as it is a statement of known effects. The truth of the effects is then reflected into what may well be a hypothetical cause.

When something happens, there is a deep human need to explain and answer why it has happened. Thus if you present a problem, people will start wondering why, thus making themselves more ready for your answer. Like the TV detective 'Whodunnit', the murder is committed and we are glued to the storyline to find out what happened.

It is easy when trying to explain to latch onto something that is not necessarily the real cause, and our desperation for an answer can blind us to reality.

See also

Cause-to-effects reasoning


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