What are Conditions in Science?
When it comes to using conditions to reach a conclusion, we can classify conditions into two main categories: necessary conditions and sufficient conditions. Necessary conditions are conditions that must take place for a certain outcome. This is pretty straightforward; we could say that A is a necessary condition for B. A Is a requirement for B, or a prerequisite for B—A has to happen for B to occur.
Take a forest burning down, for example. For a forest to burn down a fire must occur, so we could say that a fire is a necessary condition for a forest to burn down, it has to happen. Now, sufficient conditions provide a possibility, but do not lead to an irrefutable conclusion.
Sufficient conditions give you an idea of how something may have occurred, but it may not be the only way that that something could have occurred. Take a forest fire, again, for example. Say there was lightning in the area of the forest before the forest fire began, and lightning is known to cause fires, so we could say that lightning caused the forest fire.
Well, that would be a sufficient condition because lightning is a sufficient cause for a forest fire, but it’s not the only cause, because many times forest fires are caused by humans, so there’s a very good chance that a human purposefully (or not) caused that forest fire. Lightning, then, would be a sufficient condition for the forest fire.
I have a couple of statements down here that we’re going analyze, in light of what we just looked at. This statement says that individuals with an AA genotype will have blood type A. Now this is a true statement, individuals with an AA genotype will always have blood type A. However, this does not establish a necessary condition, an AA genotype is a sufficient condition.
Why? Because an AA genotype is one of two genotypes producing blood type A, and so it’s not the sole possibility for blood type A. We need to classify this as a sufficient condition. We move on to the second statement, it says individuals with blood type A will have an AA genotype.
Now, we can immediately realize that this statement is false because, remember what I just said, there’s a couple of genotypes that produce blood type A. If someone has blood type A, they’re not necessarily going to have an AA genotype.
Now if we would have classified this sentence as a necessary condition, if we would have said that an AA genotype is a necessary condition for having a blood type A, then we would have incorrectly said that this statement is true. It’s important to recognize not only that a statement is true or false but realize if it’s a necessary or sufficient condition. That’s a quick look at the two types of conditions.