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Lecture 6

PHI 1101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Moo Shu Pork, Chicken Salad, Steak Tartare


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHI 1101
Professor
Mark Brown
Lecture
6

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Causal Analysis
1. Method of Agreement
If two or more occurrences of some phenomenon have only one
relevant factor in common, that factor is likely the cause.
The method of agreement involves comparing situations in which the same
kind of event occurs. If the presence of a certain factor is the only respect in
which the situations are the same (that is, agree), then this factor may be
identified as the cause of the event.
-Three people share a dish of moo shu pork at a Chinese restaurant.
Afterwards, they have different desserts: the first has pie; the second has ice
cream; the third, almond cookies. Later, all three develop headaches, mild
sweating, and a feeling of tension in and around the temples. What is the
cause of these symptoms?
S1: moo shu pork, (a), pie (b) :illness (E)
S2: moo shu pork (a), ice cream (c): illness(E)
S3: moo shu pork (a), almond cookies (d): illness (E)
The common factor amongst the 3 victims is that they all had moo shu pork.
Therefore, it is logical to conclude that this is what cause their illness. (A=E)
The Form of the Method of Agreement:
If we’re trying to explain effect ‘E’ . . .
Instance 1: Factors a, b, c are followed by E.
Instance 2: Factors a, c, d are followed by E.
Instance 3: Factors a and c are followed by E.
Instance 4: b and c are followed by E.
Therefore, factor c probably causes E.

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Only one factor—namely, c—consistently accompanies the
effect E.
Conclusion: c likely causes E.
2. Method of Difference
The relevant factor that is present when the phenomenon occurs, and
absent when it doesn’t occur, is likely the cause.
The method of difference involves comparing situations in which an event
of interest occurs with similar situations in which it does not. If the presence
of a particular factor is the only difference between two kinds of situations,
that factor may be said to be probably “the cause” of the event.
Look for the cases that are different
What’s missing in those cases?
Adams and Bardini have shared a dinner of poached salmon and
garlic-sautéed spinach, but as they are strolling home, Adams buys
(and consumes) a cup of ice cream from a sidewalk vendor. Three
hours later, Adams becomes violently ill, with vomiting and
stomach cramps. This looks like food poisoning, and, using the
method of difference, we can identify the cause of Adams'
symptoms:
Adams: Salmon(a), Spinach(b), Ice cream(c) : illness (e)
Bardini: Salmon(a), Spinach (b)
We can identify the ice cream as the cause of Adam's illness, for it
is the only thing he ate that Bardini didn't.
The Form of the Method of Difference:
Instance 1: Factors a, b, c are followed by E.
Instance 2: Factors a, b are not followed by E.
Therefore, factor c is probably the cause of E.

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3. Joint Method of Agreement and Difference
Both the method of agreement and the method of difference combine
the two previous reasoning patterns.
The Joint Method of Agreement and Difference involves the simultaneous
application of the previous two methods. We compare cases in which an
event of interest occurs with ones in which it does not occur. The cause of
the event will be the only factor present in each case in which the event
occurs and absent in each case in which the event does not occur.
This increases the chances that our conclusion is right.
The likely cause is isolated when you:
Identify relevant common factors that are observed
in various occurrences of E
Discard any that are present when there is NO
occurrence of E
Imagine that dozens of people stop into a local bar after work as they usually
do and that ten of them come down with an intestinal illness one hour after
leaving the establishment. What caused them to become ill?
We can apply the Joint Method of Agreement and Difference to this
scenario. Say that among the ten patrons who become ill, the common
factors are that they all drank from the same bottle of wine and they all had
free tacos. So we reason that the likely cause is either the wine or the tacos.
After further investigation, though, we find that other patrons who ate the
tacos did not become ill. We conclude that the wine is likely the culprit.
S1: Drank wine (A), had free tacos (B)= illness (E)
S2: Ate tacos (B)
We can conclude that factor (A), drinking from the same bottle of wine, is
what cause illness to these people.
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