QUESTION TEXT: The student body at this university takes…
QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Parallel Reasoning
CONCLUSION: Miriam takes courses in a wide range of disciplines.
REASONING: The student body (e.g. all of the students) takes courses in a wide range of disciplines. Miriam is a student at the university.
ANALYSIS: What a bad argument. It’s assuming that what is true of the whole is true of every part. Most universities include students who study history, chemistry, economics, biology, etc. The student body studies lots of things but each student specializes.
Miriam might study only 1-2 subjects.
Whole-to-part errors are different from part-to-whole errors. The first one assumes that each individual is like the whole. The second one assumes that the whole is like each individual.
- This is a good argument. It seems to be saying that every student at the school takes math. Therefore Michael must take math.
- CORRECT. This makes the same whole to part error. The board as a whole has written on many issues, sure. But that doesn’t mean that every individual member writes on many issues. They may each have a specialty.
- This makes a part to whole argument, but it isn’t an error. It’s assuming (correctly) that if the parts are heavy then the whole bulldozer will be heavy too.
- This is a bad argument because we’re not told anything directly about new cars. But it doesn’t make a whole-to-part error.
- This make a part-to-whole error.
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