Re: Single-Cause Theories

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Tue, 25 Apr 1995 21:46:39 +1000

Hello everyone! I haven't disappeared; I've just been busy (helping
set up a network and email for an overseas aid agency). I'm glad to
see there haven't been any major flame wars while I've been away!

An interesting discussion on single-cause vs. multi-cause theories.
I definitely don't think the equation of "cause" with "variable" --
some of the participants seem to use the terms interchangeably --
is warranted. Most entities are bundles of causal relationships of
different types, so most single-cause theories are in fact multi-cause
theories viewed from a different perspective.

I agree with Bob Graber that simplicity is not a negative feature,
but in practice I think over-simplification is a bigger danger than
over-complication in the social sciences. (Some theories that appear
to be really complex on the surface -- like some of the pomo stuff on
"cyberculture" -- are actually naively simple, purporting to explain
huge amounts of stuff in one swoop.)

Danny Yee.