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A cause and effect essay explores an issue by examining factors that may possibly constitute the original cause or explain and/or anticipate the effects of an event or phenomenon. As writer of a cause and effect essay, your purpose is to establish substantially strong links for the cause-and-effect relationship of an issue. Your essay may focus on establishing the causes of an issue or the real or anticipated effects of an event/phenomenon.
The Rhetorical Situation:
Before you research and write, you must consider your purpose for writing (and, by extension, your topic), your audience, and your rhetorical approach as you are often prompted to do in class.
The purpose of this essay is to explore an issue by tracing its genesis (cause) or envisioning its transformative power in the future (effects) in order to gain a deeper understanding of what and how external forces shape events. At this stage in your planning, you should already know if your essay will explore causes or effects, but not both. Depending on what you choose, refer to the “Principles of Cause-Effect Writing” on page 162 in your textbook for suggested questions to help you start thinking in the right direction regarding your focus.
Assume that your audience are people who are acquainted with only basic information of your topic. As such you will need to be sensitive of their need for sufficient explanation and context in order to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. You must write to your audience, so knowing who they may be should help to inform your rhetorical approach (your mode of appeal – logos, pathos, ethos – your language style and diction, and your selection of details) to this assignment.
Although you will pick a real-world issue, your determination of its causes and effects may be theoretical but grounded within the inherent logic of the issue. As you try to imagine what the causes or effects of your issue may be, avoid making arguments or assertions that are logically flawed. Logical fallacies (or flaws in reasoning) usually occur when the writer is not focused on the immediacies of the issue or make far-reaching statements that cannot be supported. Some common logical fallacies are ad hominem (when the writer attacks the personal integrity/character of the opponent to suggest lack of credibility) and slippery slope (when the writer reasons that one event follows another without providing rational support or argument to justify the eventual occurrence). For more examples of logical fallacies, refer to pages 301-304 in your textbook or visit Purdue OWL.
Depending on your topic, research may be necessary for this assignment. Nonetheless, it is not required. I am looking for a well-written, insightful, and logical paper. If you can produce such a one without research (because you know your topic well), more power to you!
A cause and effect essay explores an issue by examining factors that may possibly constitute the original cause or explain and/or anticipate the effects of an event or phenomenon. As writer of a cause and effect essay, your purpose is to establish substantially strong links for the cause-and-effect relationship of an issue.