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Causal Reasoning and Conditional Reasoning

LSAT2018
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I would like to clarify the relationship between causal reasoning and conditional reasoning. Are they mutually exclusive? For the longest time I thought causal reasoning can be put in terms of conditional, but not the other way around? It would be great if I get some clarification on this.

Thank you!
Daniel Stern
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I strongly suggest keeping causal and conditional reasoning separate in your mind for the purposes of taking the LSAT. Any given Logical Reasoning question, if it contains conditional or causal reasoning at all, will only be testing one of these types of reasoning at a time.

You may be techincally correct that some valid causal statements can be put into conditional terms, but LSAT will NEVER ask you to move between these two forms of reasoing.

Since you will never have to combine these two types of reasoning on the LSAT, so you can and should keep the two types of reasoning conceptually separate for the purposes of this test.

The language of the stimulus should always make clear which of these two types reasoning you are dealing with. Remember that conditional reasoning is always derived from an absolute relationship: if A, then B. Refer back to your course book to review the words that can introduce sufficient conditions -- the "if" part of the statement -- and words that can introduce necessary conditions -- the "then" part of the statement. We don't care whether A caused B to occur: we just have to know that when A occurs, B always occurs. And that valid inference that can be drawn from that relationship -- the contrapositive -- and the two common logical errors that LSAT may test -- the Mistaken Reversal and the Mistaken Negation.

Your coursebook also had a list of causal "activators" -- the words that LSAT uses to indicate a causal relationship is being described. In a causal statement, such as C causes D, the only reason that D occurs is because C happened. We can't draw any valid inferences here, we just have to be on the lookout for common errors of causal reasoning: that the stimulus speaker has ignored other possible causes of D, or ignored the possibility that it is actually D that causes C, or ignored the fact that C is not even a cause of D at all.

Go back and review these portions of the course book, and make sure you can identify language that indicates conditional relationships and language that indicates causal relationships.

Good luck in your studies,
Dan
LSAT2018
LSAT Master
 
Posts: 233
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:11 am
Points: 234

Thank you for the response, I really appreciate it! Like you have mentioned, I try to keep Causal Reasoning and Conditional Reasoning separate. But just one more point of clarification before moving on– I couldn't help but notice that there were some instances where causal reasoning and conditional reasoning were both used in the stimulus.

For example, would a chain of causal statements (A leads to B, B leads to C and so on) be considered causal reasoning? The inference would be A leads to C?
Shannon Parker
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LSAT2018 wrote:Thank you for the response, I really appreciate it! Like you have mentioned, I try to keep Causal Reasoning and Conditional Reasoning separate. But just one more point of clarification before moving on– I couldn't help but notice that there were some instances where causal reasoning and conditional reasoning were both used in the stimulus.

For example, would a chain of causal statements (A leads to B, B leads to C and so on) be considered causal reasoning? The inference would be A leads to C?


Yes if by "leads to" you mean causes. Be careful with causal reasoning, make sure that the language of the stimulus indicates a causal relationship.

Shannon