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Another Cause and Effect Problem!

LSAT Leader
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:37 am
Points: 27

Sorry, an unrelated question to my previous post! If one says "x can cause y", that can be translated to "x possibly causes y". Can and possibly are synonyms here, and I would think it's quite an open causal relationship, in that the author could be leaving it open to (1) x might not cause y, (2) x might cause y sometimes, (3) x doesn't have to cause y but it could, (4) y can occur without x having caused it. Is this an accurate assessment of "can/possibly" in terms of cause and effect?

Also, would I be right to say that probably is essentially the same as "can/possibly" but with a little more force? Functionally speaking though, the distinctions in a question will likely be minimal?
Malila Robinson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
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Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:41 am
Points: 273

Hi Dianapoo,
In terms of likelihood there is a sort of ladder of certainty. So the bottom of the ladder would be-

Possibility: It is possible that something could happen. As in, the thing exists, so yes, it could happen, but who really knows. (So yes, you could say 'X can cause Y' is a possibility, and it would be such a loose causal relationship that it would likely be correlational rather than causal.)

The next step up would be-

Probability: It is probable that something could happen. As in, the thing exists and it is likely that the thing will happen. It is no longer a mere possibility, it is more likely that it will occur.

The top step would be-

Necessity/Certainty: It is necessary for that something will happen. Chance has been taken out of the equation, and the thing needs to happen.

To make it look more like a ladder:


[ Probability ]

[ Possibility ]

Ok my graphic art is terrible, but hopefully you get the logical picture.
Hope that helps!