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The fallacy of the single cause, also known as complex cause, causal oversimplification,[1] causal reductionism, root cause fallacy, and reduction fallacy,[2] is an informal fallacy of questionable cause that occurs when it is assumed that there is a single, simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.

Fallacy of the single cause can be logically reduced to: "X caused Y; therefore, X was the only cause of Y" (although A,B,C...etc. also contributed to Y.)[2]

Causal oversimplification is a specific kind of false dilemma where conjoint possibilities are ignored. In other words, the possible causes are assumed to be "A xor B xor C" when "A and B and C" or "A and B and not C" (etc.) are not taken into consideration; i.e. the "or" is not exclusive.

See also


  1. ^ "R. Paul Wilson On: The Oversimplification Fallacy". Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Causal Reductionism". Retrieved 6 October 2012.