Gaddis: Chapter 6

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Paper Number 2: Gaddis Chapter Six While reading Gaddis’ chapter six, he focused on how to question causation. He uses E.H. Carr’s fatal flaw as a big example for the distinction of “rational” and “accidental” causes. Gaddis also gives an alternative view on procedures of causation, and additional procedures historians need to keep in mind when narrate the reality of history. Carr explains rational causes as, “lead to fruitful generalizations and lessons can be learned from them.” While he says that accidental causes, “teach no lessons and lead to no conclusions.” Gaddis claims that Carr clearly confused himself as well as his readers about the differences between the two. Gaddis claims that not explaining clearly the distinction between rational and accidental causes is the more serious problem with Carr. Gaddis says in his book that there are three alternative views on causation. The first connecting cause is between the immediate, intermediate and the distant. The second connecting cause is between the exceptional and the general. While the third connecting cause is between the factual and the counterfactual, which Gaddis explains all three. The first alternative, says that historians begin with the structures and derive the processes that produced them. The second alternative is the difference between exceptional and general causes. Gaddis says, “the placement of the path, the existence of the mountain, the effects of gravity were all general causes of the accident: they were necessary for the death to have occurred, but they weren’t in themselves sufficient to explain it.” Sufficient cause depends on the necessary causes. Exceptional causes Gaddis says anticipates the chaos theorists have called, “sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” The last procedure which is the counterfactual is the last established causation. Gaddis says,
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