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for the causal connection appears from the connection of the objects that the judgment connects, which nature is disclosed by the discourse processes already discussed. Therefore, all the preceding processes may be involved as subordinate processes in argumentation. The greater part of an argument may consist of one or more of the subordinate processes. To prove that a railroad through a certain part of the country would be profitable might require an elaborate description of the country through which the road would pass and of the parts to be connected. To prove that the hanging of John Brown was, or was not, good for the country would require a narration of the preceding and the succeeding events. To prove whether sponges are animals would require an exposition of both the general ideas, sponges and animals. All the attributes in an object which bring it into real connection with another are involved in giving the reasons for connecting them in a proposition; hence, the constant employment of the other processes in argumentation. But 'argumentation pays the debt in becoming a subordinate process in each of the other processes. In a description of the earth, it may be necessary to prove that it is round; or in narrating a course of events, it may be necessary to prove that something happened, or why it happened; or in expounding the idea man, it may be necessary to prove that he has certain qualities.
But an argument is something more than the explanation of the subject and predicate of a proposition. It must show why one is affirmed of the other — must present their causal connection. In doing this the argument must start from the cause to establish its effect, or from the effect to establish its cause. This fact gives rise to two kinds of arguments, based on the relation of cause and effect. The argument which moves from the cause to the effect is called an a priori argument, or an argument from antecedent probability; the argument which moves from effect to cause is called an a posteriori argument, or an argument from experience.
A Priori Arguments. — The a priori arguments are arguments from cause to effect, explaining either what has happened or what will likely happen. Thus we may prove that with the increase of popular education there will be a decrease in crime; education having in itself a nature, a force, a cause, such as to produce this as an effect. That a certain candidate will be elected may be predicted from his high character or from the principles which he embodies. That prosperous times are, or are not, produced by a change in governmental administration is to be proved by determining whether there is in the nature of the case a sufficient cause. Tourgee urges, in his “ Appeal to Caesar,” that there will arise trouble with the South from the cause now present — the rapid multiplication of the negro population. The guilt or innocence of an accused person may be largely established by the a priori argument. It is difficult to convict a person whose character is such as to furnish no antecedent probability for the crime alleged. If the man accused of murder is shown to have hated the murdered man intensely, and would gain great riches by committing the crime, there would be strong motive to the deed. This, however, would not prove his guilt, but would show why he may have committed the murder. To give such evidence its greatest force, it must be shown that there is nothing in the accused person's character to oppose the free action of the motive, as fear of the law or high moral character.
Law of Inference from Cause. — Whenever there is a known cause, its full effect must be inferred, provided there are no hindrances. When there are hindrances, the effect is decreased in proportion to the hindrance to the point of prevention. The degree of probability depends on the strength of the cause after the hindrance is overcome. To prove the absence of cause or that the cause is neutralized by opposing forces is to destroy all probability whatever. If a man has no motive to theft or is confined so that the act would be impossible, he would not be charged with such a crime.
Physical causes are more certain to be followed by their effects than moral causes. The warmth of the sun and the moisture in spring will clothe the earth in verdure; but whether a nation at enmity against another will bring war is not so certain. In the realm of volition, so many and so complex are the motives, and so many of them hidden from view to all except the person choosing, that the connection of cause and effect cannot be ascertained with certainty. If all motives could be taken into account, the resulting effect in action could be as certainly inferred as the effect of a cause in the physical world. The uncertainty of prevision in history arises from the fact that the forces are so diffused and complex that their result is difficult to estimate; besides, there are many latent forces in human character which must be left out of the account altogether.
A common fallacy in argumentation under the law of inference from cause is the assumption that one of two or more effects which may seem to have equal connection with the cause is the effect which is to follow. Which of these effects will follow is the very point in question. Or, of two or more causes which may equally well account for the effect, one is assumed as the cause. Which of these is the real cause is to be proved by the argument. This fallacy is called “begging the question.” One writer may urge the system of landholding as the cause of the discontent of the country, while another finds the cause in foreign immigration, and a third is sure that railroad monopolies are responsible. Each assumes one cause, and finding that it tends in the desired direction, expects his readers to infer it to be the sole cause, while other causes may be shown to bear with equal force; and all of them, or some cause fundamental enough to include all the minor causes, might be a better-basis of inference than any one presented. Another form of this fallacy is the assumption that one circumstance is the cause of another, when it is only a concomitant. Statistics are presented to prove that illiteracy is the cause of crime; while both illiteracy and crime may be common effects of the low character of the persons enumerated in the statistics. People do not read, and it is observed that they have no libraries, and the second fact is thought to explain the first. Yet the absence of reading and the library may be concomitant facts of a common cause; as, hard manual labor, sensual indulgence, sluggish state of mind, etc.
A fruitful source of such fallacies as the above is the prejudice of the one who makes the argument. To a greater extent than one is conscious will he select from probable causes the one which he desires to be the cause. The heart has arguments which the head knows not of. A bad motive is generally assumed to explain the actions of those to whom we are opposed; and good motives to explain the actions of those with whom we agree. No candidate for office expects just inferences from the opposite party. Even the philanthropist, in carrying out some benevolent enterprise, is gratuitously supplied with selfish motives. When many good reasons will readily account for an action, the mind is too often determined in its choice, not by the careful estimate of the relation of cause and effect, but by the wish that a certain motive be the cause. The President may favor or veto a certain measure, and his course be explainable by a desire for the general good or for some selfish gain. Party affiliations will cause one party to praise him for his disinterested loyalty and justice, while with the other party prejudice finds in the position taken nothing but selfishness or cowardice. When the advantages of either free trade or protective tariff are to be proved against the other, many beneficial effects are assumed that could as easily be explained by other conditions, and