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A LEVEL - Critical Thinking > Flaws > Flashcards

Flashcards in Flaws Deck (38)
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1

Name and explain the flaw:

“Even non-violent video games are a danger to your child. They start off peacefully racing cars round a track, avoiding banana skins. But before you know it, they haven’t left their bedroom all day because they’re addicted to the virtual thrill of shooting innocent bystanders while hurtling round a city in a stolen vehicle.”

• Slippery slope
• No reason is given to make us accept that playing a childish racing game will lead to an addiction to violent video games.

2

Name and explain the flaw:

“The education system today is entirely focused on how to pass exams. This means exams don’t test the full breadth of a student’s knowledge of a subject - only their knowledge of the specification and assessment objectives. It’s no wonder so many A-level students don’t know how to use an apostrophe correctly.”

• Unrelated conclusion
• The reasons are about an exam-focused system and are not related to the conclusion about punctuation

3

Name the flaw:

When an argument claims that event A caused event B, just because B happened after A.

Post Hoc

4

Name and explain the flaw:

“Everyone has the right to free speech, therefore it’s wrong to try to silence other people’s opinions.”

• Begging the question
• You could only accept the reason “everyone has the right to free speech” if you already believed the conclusion that it’s wrong to silence people’s opinions.

5

Name and explain the flaw:

“Some people argue that it’s best for young children if their mother stays at home, because mothers are instinctively nurturing. But it’s clearly wrong to say that mothers are only good at cooking, cleaning and general domestic drudgery. Mothers have all sorts of skills, so they should be allowed to have a career if they want.”

• Straw person
• The argument misrepresents the counter-argument, because the argument for stay-at-home mothers isn’t claiming that mothers re only good at general domestic drudgery. This means that the counter-argument hasn’t been properly dismissed.

6

Name and explain the flaw:

“It is fair to confiscate his phone because that is a just punishment.”

• Circular argument
• “Fair” and “just” mean the same thing, so the reason just repeats the conclusion -> There’s nothing to persuade us of the conclusion.

7

Name the flaw:

When an argument gets cause and effect the wrong way round.

Confusing cause and effect

8

Name the flaw:

When an argument claims that event A caused event B, when they’re actually both caused by event C.

Simplifying causal relations

9

Name and explain the flaw:

“Benefit application procedures are too strict. Lady Olivia James argues that we need the procedures to be really strict to make it harder to cheat the welfare system. But she’s obviously just a rich snob who has no idea what it’s like to struggle for money and rely on benefits for survival.”

• Ad hominem
• The argument attacks Lady Olivia James without giving any reason to dismiss the counter-argument. The counter-argument may be valid regardless of who made it.

10

Name and explain the flaw:

“I vandalised the politician’s garden, but he deserved it because he was corrupt.”

• Two wrongs don’t make a right
• The politician’s bad actions alone do not justify the author’s bad actions.

11

Name the flaw:

When an argument says that you can do something bad just because someone else has done a different bad thing.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

12

Name the flaw:

When a claim about many things in a group is used to support a conclusion about an individual case.

Sweeping generalisation

13

Name the flaw:

When an argument’s conclusion and reasons are not relevant to each other.

Unrelated conclusion

14

Name and explain the flaw:

“A lot of rugby players are loud, arrogant and rude. I prefer reserved, polite people. Steve is a rugby player - therefore I won’t like him.”

• Sweeping generalisation
• A claim about many rugby players is used to support a conclusion about Steve. This doesn’t work because Steve might be an exception and no evidence is given to suggest that he’s not.

15

Name and explain the flaw:

“Vegetarians are difficult dinner party guests. Either you’ve got to go to the extra hassle of cooking a separate dish for them or disappoint the other guests by not serving meat. I’ve tried asking them to bring their own food - but they seem to find that insulting. I find the best option is just to not invite them.”

• Restricting the options
• The options are restricted to cooking a separate dish for vegetarians, disappointing other guests by not serving meat, or not inviting vegetarians. However, there are alternative options, such as serving vegetarians the same meal but without the meat, or cook fabulous vegetarian food that wouldn’t disappoint anyone.

16

Name the flaw:

When an argument says that you should do something just because someone else does it.

Tu Quoque

17

Name the flaw:

When the conclusion is the same as one of the reasons.

Circular argument

18

Name the flaw:

When an argument claims one thing was entirely responsible for another, when actually several factors combined to cause the result.

Simplifying causal relations

19

Name and explain the flaw:

“All my friends volunteer at charity shops, therefore I should too.”

• Tu Quoque
• There is no reason given to say why you should volunteer at a charity shop, except that others do, which is insufficient.

20

Name and explain the flaw:

“After he started working as an accountant, he lost weight. Therefore, calculating tax rebates and looking at company audits is a good way to lose weight.”

• Post hoc
• The weight loss happened after he started working as an accountant, but there is no reason to suggest that this is what caused the weight loss.

21

Name the flaw:

When two similar words are used as if they mean the same thing.

Conflation

22

Name and explain the flaw:

“Annual figures show that as sales of ice cream go up, the number of drowning incidents also increases. This shows that ice cream affects your ability to swim.”

• Simplifying causal relations
• The argument states that the increase in ice cream sales causes the increase in drowning. However, it is more likely that it is hot summer weather that causes both of these things, so the argument’s conclusion cannot be accepted.

23

Name the flaw:

When a claim about a few things is used to support a claim about lots of things.

Hasty generalisation

24

Name the flaw:

When an argument uses a sufficient condition as if it is necessary (or vice versa).

Confusing necessary and sufficient conditions.

25

Name and explain the flaw:

“Stuart has the flu a lot more than I do - I think it’s because he visits the doctor’s surgery more often than me. The waiting room must be full of germs and that’s why he catches more viruses.”

• Confusing cause and effect
• It’s more likely that Stuart’s frequent visits to the doctor are caused by him having the flu, not that the flu is caused by the visits.

26

Name and explain the flaw:

“The prime minister’s financial policies were over-ambitious, and that’s what caused the economy to collapse. If we’d elected someone else then the economy would still be flourishing.”

• Simplifying causal relations
• Many factors affect the economy, including the economies of other countries and decisions made by banks. It cannot be claimed that the prime minister alone caused the economy to collapse.

27

Name and explain the flaw:

“She has a long history of violence against teachers and other pupils - this is sufficient reason to expel her. I won’t be expelled - even though I did deliberately burn down the science block - because I don’t have a long history of violence against teachers and other pupils.”

• Confusing necessary and sufficient conditions
• It is asides that because a long history of violence is sufficient then it might be necessary as well. Although a history of violence will get you expelled, it’s not necessary because you can get expelled for other things too.

28

Name the flaw:

When a counter-argument is misrepresented or distorted to make it easier to dismiss.

Straw person

29

Name and explain the flaw:

“Nurses are caring, sensitive people, so their argument that hospitals need more investment must be justified.”

• Ad hominem
• The argument uses the character of nurses to justify their claim, rather than explaining why it is correct

30

Name and explain the flaw:

“The Bible says God is always right. We know the Bible is true because it is the word of God. Therefore, God is always right.”

• Begging the question
• To accept the reason “the Bible is true because it is the word of God” you must already accept the conclusion that “God is always right.”