QUESTION TEXT: Kennel club members who frequently discipline their…
QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: Discipline makes dogs behave badly.
REASONING: Dogs that behave badly get disciplined more often.
ANALYSIS: What a stupid argument. If your dog never misbehaves, why would you discipline it? And if your dog often does terrible things, wouldn’t you discipline it?
The argument mixes up causes and effects. Discipline could cause misbehavior, but it’s also possible that misbehavior causes owners to punish their dogs. Or maybe some third factor both causes dogs to misbehave and owners to treat their dogs poorly. This argument is making a correlation/causation error.
- CORRECT. If your dog does something bad, you might punish it. It’s possible that dogs would behave even worse without discipline.
- It sounds like the argument didn’t consider this. Because if this were true, then dogs would quickly learn not to misbehave, unless they like punishment.
- The argument is only talking about dogs. We all know dogs behave differently from other animals in important ways, so evidence about cats or rabbits (for example) wouldn’t tell us much about dogs.
- The evidence only compared kennel club members with other members, so the skill of non-members is not a factor. It’s still true that more punishment was correlated with more misbehavior.
- This doesn’t contradict the argument. The author would reply that this means that kennel club owners’ dogs must be more likely to misbehave.
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