Sample Causal Argument

Because the causal argument  can take several different forms, a single example of a causal argument can't illustrate organization for most of you. Consequently, this web page presents information and short samples of different approaches to causality, depending upon your thesis.

For full-length samples of causal arguments, see Ramage and Bean's Writing Arguments, pages 248-250. The editors discuss four strategies for pursuing causality and direct you to specific short essays within the book.

Re-examine the causal argument distributed in class. It is an example of a fairly solid causal argument, though it lacks sufficient evidence and polish to be considered exceptional.

Finally, browse through the following samples to get a sense of how some of your classmates have very successfully handled the difficulties posed by the causal argument.

Sample Introduction: The following introduction to a causal argument about genetically-altered foods very efficiently introduces the issue, demonstrates that it is debatable, and provides a clearly arguable causal thesis. This example demonstrates a good way of setting up a causal argument that pursues several effects.

Nov. 8, 1998
ENG 101-067
Ms. Thompson
The Introduction of Genetically-Altered Foods:
Why We Should Not Tamper with Mother Nature

       Each day through the use of genetic engineering, food are being artificially modified and introduced  to the public for consumption. According to USA Today magazine, "contrary to popular lore, the public is not particularly concerned about eating foods tailored through biotechnology. When they were asked how likely they would be to buy a new better tasting tomato, or other kinds of biotech food products, most people said that they would accept it and feel comfortable with it" (Smith 23). Supporters of these genetically-engineered foods claim that the use of genetic engineering produces a more nutritional, better looking, economical, and better tasting product. Despite these strong claims in favor of genetically-altered foods, there is strong opposition against them. Genetically-altered foods can contribute to health problems among consumers because their effects on the human body are currently unknown, they can cause fatal and crippling effects due to allergic reactions, they promote more disease-resistant pests, and they increase the spread of diseases across species barriers.


Sample Introduction:  This introduction takes on an extremely broad issue, child abuse and its causes, and very deftly limits the scope to the pursuit of a single cause. This author very carefully acknowledges the variety of causes before moving on to establish his own position on causality. By thoughtfully bringing these other causes to our attention, he both establishes the debate and refrains from oversimplifying causality. When he finally does discuss the particular path of causality he intends to explore in his thesis, he's very careful to explain a precise degree of causality: not that abuse in childhood always causes victims to become adult abusers of children, but that there is a significant connection. This is a fine example of how to pursue one cause from among several possible causes.

Nov. 10, 1998
ENG 101-067
Ms. Thompson

       Child abuse -- defined as "the physical or mental injury. . .of a child under the age of 18 by a person who is responsible for the child's welfare" (Kashani and Allen 2) -- and other various forms of violent behavior inflicted onto adolescents or in their presence is an overwhelming cause of the occurrence of similar events in the child's future, when the former victim has reached an age when he or she can be classified as the administrator of such actions. A number of contributing factors, such as living conditions, financial standing, personal relationships, and school- and gang-related violence can also have a considerable effect on abuse and violence.
       While there are many complex reasons why people act violently and criminally toward others, such as prefrontal brain dysfunctions, lower glucose metabolism, and a vast array of other physiological and neurological reasons, the general consensus among experts is that an adult's behavior, in any context, is largely a result of the quality of the atmosphere in which the child was raised (Smith 7). Of course, many people will argue that any adult has control over his or her free will and how they conduct themselves. Naturally, not every victim of child abuse and/or violent crime will emerge into a monster in his or her adult years, and occassionally someone who experiences a near-perfect childhood will turn the tables and develop into the exact opposite upon reaching maturity. However, enough conclusive links exist between sufferers of childhood violence and those who carry out the same type of abuse to deduce that there is a significant connection.


Sample Organization: Following is a classmate's approach to organizing several diverse effects of a single cause -- no-till farming. He makes excellent use of transitional phrases to illuminate the logical connections among his paragraphs.

Nov. 11, 1998
ENG 101-064
Ms. Thompson
The Positive Effects of  No-Till Farming

Thesis: The practice of no-till farming results in several benefits for both the environment and the farmer.

       Practicing no-till farming saves farmers countless tons of topsoil annually due to the effects of residue, or crop leftovers, which cling to soil and prevent erosion. 

     Although the reduction of erosion is the main benefit, residue offers farmers another significant benefit: the ability to trap water and protect the soil from the evaporative effect of the wind, thus providing moister soils.

       Another positive effect of residue is the development of macropores, created by stubble roots and earthworms, which help facilitate the movement of water and oxygen to the roots of crops.

       While the earthworms and roots are busy making pores in the soil, they're also increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil.

       Besides the effects on the land, no-till provides benefits, and significant ones at that, for farmers. (saves time, money, less equipment).

       Despite no-till's positive effects on the environment and for the farmer, opponents of no-till point to what some people argue as the only negative consequence of no-till: increased chemical use.

       Whether or not chemicals used in no-till farming damage the environment is a serious concern. Modern chemicals, however, are much less toxic than their counterparts in early generations, are very biodegradable, and used at much smaller rates of application. 

This essay ends by weighing the benefits of no-till against the chemical usage and concluding that, for the sake of the soil and the farmer, no-till seems to yield more positive effects than conventional tillage.


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