QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: The social theorists in question think that trying to achieve democracy is useless.
REASONING: Democracy is impossible if people care only about their own interests. Social theorists think people care only about their own interests.
ANALYSIS: There are at least two flaws. First, it might still be worthwhile to aspire to democracy, even if we can never achieve it. Aspiring to run 100 yards in ten seconds can make you run faster, even if you never meet your goal.
Second, the social theorists may not realize what their ideas mean. Few people follow their beliefs to their logical conclusions. Most people who are convinced the world will end soon (for whatever reason) nonetheless contribute to their retirement accounts. Abstractly, the author says: “If A is true, then so is B. These guys believe A, so they must believe B.” (the problem is that those guys might not realize A leads to B)
- CORRECT. The social theorists might just be idiots. They may think that self-interested people can have democracy, even if that is impossible.
- This answer choices describes a whole-to-part flaw e.g. “America has a mighty military, so you personally must have a mighty army, because you’re American”. This didn’t happen here.
- This is a part to whole flaw. e.g. “Every cell in your body is tiny. So you must be tiny.” It’s a common logical flaw, but the author didn’t make any claim about the group of social theorists who believe we are self-interested. He made a claim about the individuals in that group.
- Did the author say the social theorists smelled bad? Do they have tiny brains? Do they drool when they speak? You need to find a specific insult if you pick an ad hominem flaw answer.
- Here’s an example of this flaw. Suppose I say: “All humans must die someday. So you will die tomorrow”. It’s a bad argument, but my premise (we all must die) is still valid. This is completely different from what author does. He says: If A is true, then so is B. These guys believe A, so they must believe B.
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