ESGS Logical Fallacies

Complex Cause


The effect is caused by a number of objects or events, of which the cause identified is only a part. A variation of this is the feedback loop where the effect is itself a part of the cause. It is a special case of Questionable Cause.


This is a fallacy when one cause alone cannot produce the effect mentioned. When the cause contributes additively to the effect, the fallacy could be Genuine but Insignificant Cause.


The accident was caused by the poor location of the bush.
True, but it wouldn't have occurred had the driver not been drunk and the pedestrian not been jaywalking.

The Challenger explosion was caused by the cold weather.
True, however, it would not have occurred had the O-rings been properly constructed.

People are in fear because of increased crime.
True, but this has lead people to break the law as a consequence of their fear, which increases crime even more.




Show that all of the causes, and not just the one mentioned, are required to produce the effect.

© ESGS, 2002.