QUESTION TEXT: Amoebas, like human beings, generally withdraw from…
QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Parallel Reasoning
CONCLUSION: All microscopic organisms must be able to feel pain.
REASONING: Amoeba withdraw from harmful stimuli. Humans do this, and we feel pain.
ANALYSIS: There are two errors here:
- Humans withdraw because we feel pain. But amoeba might withdraw for a different reason. (Maybe they have an instinct to avoid harm)
- The conclusion generalizes from amoebas to all microscopic organisms.
Drawings would be distracting and wouldn’t make the question any clearer. Do not draw diagrams unless there’s a reason. I’ve seen people get so focussed on unhelpful drawings that they forget to look for the flaws. The two flaws are 1. forgetting that reasons can differ, and 2. overgeneralization.
- CORRECT. This generalizes from poets to artists. And it ignores the possibility that there are many reasons for using odd language. People under hypnosis may do so because they have low inhibitions, but poets might have other reasons.
- This answer doesn’t overgeneralize (e.g. from corporations to all businesses), and it doesn’t say that corporations definitely act the same as non-profits. (The conclusion says “probably”).
- This doesn’t overgeneralize from one type of athlete to all athletes. And the rest of the argument isn’t terrible. We know “most” athletes have the same reason for practice. Since all boxers practice to excel, it does seem “probable” skaters have the same reason. Probable = most.
- This is a good argument. The second sentence is completely irrelevant. But the first sentence does prove the third sentence. Generally and probably are both synonyms for “most”. So if predatory birds “generally” hunt alone, then it does seem “probable” that a given type of predatory bird (hawks) hunts alone.
- This answer is part right because it says that the reason for something is similar (though not the same) in two different cases. But it doesn’t overgeneralize to all mountains.
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