Fallacy of a Single Cause Definition

 

This particular fallacy, the fallacy of a single cause, can also be referred to as causal oversimplification or the reduction fallacy. One root of this logical fallacy is the assumption that one factor is the direct reason behind a particular issue, because of its occurrence before said issue. Another aspect is the single motive aspect of this fallacy. It is false because there are often multiple motives or reasons causing various issues. To simplify, the fallacy of a single cause is a fallacy that states: Y occurred then X, therefore Y and only Y is the cause of X.

An example of the fallacy of a single cause is – “President Trump has been in office for a month and gas prices have been skyrocketing. The rise in gas prices is because of President Trump.” As stated, the correlation between the role of President Trump and gas prices is direct; only because of their chronological order and assumed connection.

Some major issues with this fallacy are that it leaves no room for actual analytical thought. Instead of accurately determining whether an element is the cause of an outcome, this fallacy allows people to resort in incorrect conclusions. Fallacy of a single cause typically leads to a myriad of false claims and accusations. While there are instances when a sequence of events is a direct sign of causation, this is not an absolute rule to go by.

 

Works Cited

“Fallacy of the Single Cause.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 1 Sept. 2015. Web.

Vleet, Van Jacob E. “Chapter 5: Causal Fallacies.” Informal Logical Fallacies a Brief Guide. Lanham: U of America, 2012. Print.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Another example I often find of this fallacy is when people will see reports of a school shooting, learn that the shooter played violent video games (Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, etc.) and assume that their violent actions were an attempt to live out some kind of fantasy that came from playing the video game.

  2. An example of this can be seen with what my father says about people from Maryland. “Maryland drivers are the worst drivers on the planet.” Just because they are from Maryland, doe not mean that they are bad drivers, so my father commits this fallacy on a daily basis,

  3. An example of this would be if someone thought they did well on a test because they used a new pen or pencil. Technically the pen was a part of the causal chain that led to the test, but it is a logical fallacy to think that the new pen caused the good grade.

  4. What comes to my mind is how people state that a natural disaster has happened or an accident has occurred solely because something they don’t agree with has happened. For example, an earthquake occurring in a country that has legalized a drug or gay marriage.

    • Thomas Sheehan

      @HUNTJD Those examples sound more like the false cause fallacy. The single cause fallacy is applicable when the reason provided is potentially one of the causes, just not the only one. Like if you went to the dentist’s and they say you need to not eat so much candy, citing candy as the only cause of bad teeth, when in addition genetics and the dental hygiene that follows (or doesn’t follow) the candy eating are also part of the equation.

  5. Something I use to hear a lot in high school:
    A student who never studies, never pays attention, and talks or sleeps all through classes: “I only failed those tests because my teachers don’t like me!!!”

  6. I suppose an example would be when something goes wrong in our country, whether it be the economy, educational system, employment rates, etc., and everyone immediately blames the president for everything.

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