Causal Argument Essay
ASSIGNMENT FOR CHAPTER 12: A CAUSAL ARGUMENT INVOLVING "SURPRISING" OR "DISPUTED" CAUSES (Using MLA Documentation, 3 Sources, Visual/Non-Text Source, 500-700 Words)

I. Choose an issue question about the causes (or consequences) of a trend, event, or other phenomenon.
  • Write a 500-700 word argument that persuades an audience to accept your explanation of the causes (or consequences) of your chosen phenomenon.
  • Within your essay you should
    • examine alternative hypotheses or opposing views and
    • explain your reasons for rejecting them.
    • You can imagine your issue either as a puzzle or as a disagreement.
      • If a puzzle, your task will be informational as well as argumentative because your role will be that of an analyst explaining causes or consequences of an event to an audience that doesn't have an answer already in mind.
      • If you see your issue as a disagreement, your task will be more directly argumentative as your goal will be to change an opposing audience's views so that they adhere to your position more than their original one.

II. Cite a minimum of three sources in the paper, using the MLA documentation style.
As a general rule, avoid too much quotation, especially long quotations. Remember that an essay which incorporates source materials, like any other essay, should present your argument in your voice. As a writer, you need to be able to move back and forth gracefully between conducting your own argument and using material from your research in the form of a) summary, b) paraphrase, c) quotation, or--better yet--d) a blend of all three methods. When using Block Quotation or Inserted Quotation, be sure to follow the correct format.

III. Include a visual/non-text resource: chart, graph, photo, picture, etc.
  • For In-text Parenthetical Citations, use Clear Attributions to signal to readers which ideas are the yours and which ideas are being taken from another source and Parenthetical Citations (in MLA format) only to give readers follow-up information on where the source can be found; when a parenthesis is inappropriate or unneeded, use a source-reflective statement to signal the end of source material.
  • AVOID PLAGIARISM: Cite everything you borrow. Always indicate when you have borrowed another person's ideas with attributive tags/parenthetical references; also, when borrowing another person's language, be certain to use quotation marks or block indentations.
  • Place a list of Works Cited at the end of the paper--This is a list of all the sources you have cited and you should place that title at the top of the page (see the student example in WA 338 or 284).
IV. This is a Level-4 assignment from the “Written Expression” section of OCTC’s “Expression of Ideas Framework.” Please remember that assignments at this level are “tailored to the needs of the audience/customer/class/instructor,” which, in this case, means complying with all the requirements listed on the instruction sheet. Also note at this level, the expectation is that “[w]hen including outside research, MLA/APA format will be followed. Complete sentences are required, and grammar, mechanics, and spelling are evaluated.” And don’t overlook the cautionary note: “Students writing at Levels 2, 3, and 4 would not use . . . you. . . .”
V. Organize your paper by following one of the outlines discussed in WA 12 (269-70).
Examples of Causal Argument Issue Questions

What caused the sudden decline in the U.S. crime rate beginning in the 1990s?
What are the causes of global warning?
Why did rap music become popular?
Why are white teenage girls seven times as likely to smoke as African American teenage girls?
Why do couples who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who don't?
What caused the Columbine High School massacre?
What caused young women in Fiji to start feeling fat?
What might be the consequences of legalizing heroin and other hard drugs?
What might be the consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade?
What have been the consequences-expected or unexpected-of the invasion of Iraq?
What have been the consequences-expected or unexpected-of the emerging popularity of YouTube?
What might be the consequences-expected or unexpected-of aggressively combating global warming as opposed to adapting to it?


ORGANIZING A CAUSAL ARGUMENT (252-253)



PLAN 1: ARGUMENT EXPLAINING LINKS IN A CAUSAL CHAIN



I. Introduce the issue and state your claim.

A. Engage reader's interest in your causal issue and show why it is controversial or problematic.

B. Show what's at stake.

C. State your claim.

II. Explain the links in the chain going from cause to effect.

A. Explain the links and their connections in order.

B. Anticipate and respond to possible objections if needed.

III. Conclude.

A. Perhaps sum up your argument.

B. Return to the "big picture" of what's at stake.

C. End with something memorable.







ORGANIZATION PLAN 2: ARGUMENT PROPOSING MULTIPLE

CAUSES OR CONSEQUENCES OF A PHENOMENON



I. Introduce the issue and state your claim.

A. Engage reader's interest in your causal issue and show why it is problematic or controversial.

B. Show what's at stake.

C. State your claim.

II. Propose relative contributions of different causes of a phenomenon or relative importance of different consequences.

A. Describe the first possible cause or consequence and explain your reasoning.

B. Continue with the rest of your causes or consequences.

C. Arrange causes or consequences in increasing order of importance, significance, or surprise.

III. Respond to possible objections to your argument (if needed).

A. Anticipate and summarize possible objections.

B. Respond through rebuttal or concession.

IV. Conclude.

A. Perhaps sum up your argument.

B. Return to the "big picture" of what's at stake.

C. End with something memorable.






ORGANIZATION PLAN 3: ARGUMENT PROPOSING

A SURPRISING CAUSES OR CONSEQUENCE



I. Introduce the issue and state your claim.

A. Engage reader's interest in your causal issue and show why it is problematic or controversial.

B. Show what's at stake.

C. State your claim.

II. Reject commonly assumed causes or consequences.

A. Describe the first commonly assumed cause or consequence and show why you don't think the explanation is adequate.

B. Continue with the rest of your commonly assumed causes or consequences.

III. Argue for your surprising cause or consequence.

A. Describe your surprising cause or consequence.

B. Explain your causal reasoning.

C. Anticipate and respond to possible objections if needed.

IV. Conclude.

A. Perhaps sum up your argument.

B. Return to the "big picture" of what's at stake.

C. End with something memorable.