QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: Jamal’s statement’s are absurd.
REASONING: Jamal says that Mary can legally sell her business, yet also that Mary would be wrong to sell her business.
ANALYSIS: Mary’s flaw hinges on Jamal’s use of the word “right”. This has at least two meanings in English. If I say “you have a legal right to take the money”, I mean that the law will not stop you.
If I say “you have no right to take the money!”, then I may mean something different. “You have no right!” is an idiomatic expression in English, and it should not be interpreted literally. What it really means is that it would be morally wrong for you to take the money.
Mary ignores that Jamal used the word “right” in two different senses.
- This answer contradicts the first sentence. Both Mary and Jamal agree that Mary can sell her business whenever she wants to.
- This is tempting, but it doesn’t harm Mary’s argument. The first sentence is very clear: Mary can sell her business whenever she wants to. So even if her employees have rights, these rights aren’t enough to stop her from selling.
- This claim isn’t in dispute! The first sentence shows that Mary and Jamal both agree that Mary has the legal right to sell the business.
- CORRECT. See the analysis above. Jamal is actually referring to both the legal right, and the moral right. When people say “you have no right!”, they are speaking in moral terms; this is an idiomatic expression in English.
- Mary doesn’t attack Jamal. In the final sentence, Mary says that Jamal’s argument is absurd, but she’s made no personal attack on Jamal.
Example of flaw: Jamal, you’re an absurd person. Everything you say is stupid. You couldn’t possibly form a correct argument.
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