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The Why of ThingsCausality in Science, Medicine, and Life$
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Peter Rabins

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164726

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164726.001.0001

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Seeking the Why of Things

Seeking the Why of Things

The Model Applied

(p.195) 11 Seeking the Why of Things
The Why of Things

Peter V. Rabins

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the utility and limitations of the three-facet model by focusing on six specific issues: the emergence of HIV/AIDS as an epidemic illness worldwide, causality in U.S. law, evolution as a causal concept, Alzheimer disease, human aggression, and the etiology of depression. It shows that the identification of correlates and the construction of narratives is easy, but that demonstrating that they are causal and identifying how they contribute causally is much more challenging. This challenge is compounded when topics as complex and multidetermined as violence and depression are considered. A variety of factors and descriptors are correlated with levels of violence, including testosterone level; discrimination based on physical, social, economic or geographic factors; and group identity. Hence, a comprehensive or at least sophisticated view that incorporates such a wide conceptual and factual range of characteristics can seem daunting if not impossible to integrate. The purpose of the three-facet model is to highlight the strengths of the many intellectual tools needed to explain the “why of things”.

Keywords:   three-facet model, HIV/AIDS, causality, law, evolution, Alzheimer disease, human aggression, depression, narrative, violence

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