Chapter 14 introduces you to writing and thinking about cause and consequence, one of the most common kinds of thinking in academic and professional settings. It dominates not just the physical and social sciences but also business and public life. Causal analyses can serve a variety of rhetorical purposes, including enlarging, clarifying, or restructuring your reader's understanding of a causal link.
By the end of the chapter, you should understand the following:
1. Most questions about cause and consequence fall into one of three categories: one-time events, recurring events, or trends.
2. Causal analyses of phenomena involving humans present special difficulties because of the problem of free will.
3. Causal analyses can be also be difficult because of the "law of unintended consequences."
4. The three main methods for arguing that one event causes another are to proceed directly, indirectly, or by analogy.
5. Each of the three main methods has costs and benefits; the phenomena under consideration and the rhetorical situation will usually recommend one approach over another.
6. There exists a collection of specialized terms that have been developed specifically to address the challenges surrounding causal arguments.