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Increases/Decreases in Likelihood

LSAT Apprentice
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:46 pm
Points: 9

EX: "Diet is extremely important to health, and junk food has a negative impact on your health. Thus, the more junk food you eat, the worse your overall health will be as result."

"When working with problems that introduce these ideas, the removal of the cause doesn't eliminate the effect, it just removes the increase or decrease in the effect."

Regarding the underlined portion, What is it trying to say?

I'm confused because in my mind if your remove the cause, then you do not have cause lol. So how is the effect not eliminated when it does not have a cause?
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 2282
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:01 pm
Points: 2,096

In arguments like this one, LB, the author is not saying that junk food is the only cause of ill health, but rather that it is one cause. This is less extreme than the typical causal argument on the LSAT, but it does happen. What the underlined portion is saying is that if you remove junk food (a cause, but not necessarily the only cause), health should improve (the effect of ill health is lessened) but not necessarily disappear (because other causes may be at work, like genetics, environmental factors, infections from untreated wounds, etc.)

If the causal claim is absolute - X causes Y - then you are right that the removal of the cause should eliminate the effect, and if it doesn't then the original claim is weakened or even destroyed.

If the claim is less than absolute - X makes Y worse, A contributes to B, etc. - then the removal of the cause should lessen the effect and the addition of more of the cause should increase the effect, but removing the cause may not completely remove the effect.

I hope that causes you to have a better understanding!
Adam M. Tyson
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