QUESTION TEXT: Newspaper subscriber: Arnot’s editorial argues that by…
QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: We can’t get rid of our social ills by fixing government.
REASONING: Arnot thought we could solve our social problems by fixing government, and Arnot’s plan includes a silly assumption.
ANALYSIS: The subscriber argues that Arnot’s conclusion is false, because his reasoning is bad. This itself is terrible reasoning. Let me give an example. “Gravity is less strong on the moon. This is true because the moon is made of blue cheese, which produces less gravity.”
My reasoning is silly, but my conclusion is true. You’ve probably heard the phrase “right for the wrong reasons”. The newspaper subscriber ignores this possibility.
- CORRECT. Arnot’s claim might still be true, even if his argument for the claim isn’t good.
- This describes the error of mistaking a necessary condition for a sufficient condition. I.e. “All cats have tails. This thing has a tail, so it’s a cat.” It’s a bad argument, but it’s not what happens in the stimulus.
- This gets it backwards. The argument fails to consider that a conclusion might be true even if some premises that support it are false.
- What is the distortion? The subscriber just argues that Arnot’s argument makes poor assumptions. As far as we know, the author accurately describes Arnot’s argument.
- Government isn’t defined here, but presumably the subscriber means “group that leads society” both times, or something like that. There’s no indication of a switched definition.
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